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Aiming too high at shooting club?

   The "mixed use" development concept - a well-designed space that melds retail, residential and office interests - isn't new. It's just new to Western New York.

   Across the country, many well-designed mixed-use projects have met with great success. Suburban planners have promoted such developments as "new urbanism" - high-density developments that feature walkable, mixed-use communities with plenty of public access and gathering spaces.

   Benderson Development representatives say that's exactly what they have in mind for Amherst Town Centre, a $44 million mixed-use development planned for the former Amherst Shooting Club property on Maple Road.

   Benderson officials say the project's proximity to UB, the Pepsi Center and Audubon Golf Course make this spot the perfect location for a new "lifestyle center."

   But some residents are skeptical. Placing high density development in what is now an open field means traffic congestion and access issues for neighbors who've lived in the community for years.

   Benderson promotes a development with "timeless character" but some residents say Amherst Town Centre is "out of character" with the surrounding neighborhood.

   Can this kind of mixed-use development succeed in Western New York, and is the former Amherst Shooting Club the place to build one?

   -- Sandy Tan

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