My very first reaction? Too much retail--more retail that is the same-same big box stuff will not survive in today's economy. There is a lot of empty space out there right now--one would need something unique and one of a kind to succeed with a new development.
I was curious to see what the readers of the Kansas City Star thought of the idea so I went to the comments section. Thankfully, comments were allowed. Some objected along the lines I just elaborated on above--too much big box retail, short life span, same old same old.
However, many majored on how nothing much could come of the area until crime was controlled. I have to admit, I was surprised. How bad did it get? I never felt that unsafe there following sensible rules. I may have missed the worst of it, because as the mall emptied, I found less and less reason to go to the mall. My going was more related to the mall just not having the things I wanted or needed in it any more, not fear or crime related. I think I stopped going there after dark, but I had never gone much after dark to the mall at all even at its retail height.
I would vote for light industry--perhaps calls centers and service centers also. The location is awesome for moving people in and out and is an easy commute from all parts of the metro. There is no need for this prime commercial property to stand empty. Mix in some midscale and upscale housing, both single and multfamily. Some park land too. Big box retail by itself isn't going to cut it.
And solve the crime problem--perceived and real. Somehow, the crime made a big impression on people--at least those who read the Kansas City Star. As long as many people think the area is not safe, it will not flourish, no matter what is proposed.
And I have no desire to finance a failure with tax breaks. No bad plans should get any help from the government--if it doesn't have a good chance to fly on its own, don't do it. As much as I hate to say it, just leave the land open until the right plan, opportunity and idea comes along.