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If you didn't recognize that Salt Lake City was getting hip in the world of urban planning, here's more evidence:

The Congress for the New Urbanism will hold its 21st annual meeting in Utah's capital city May 29-June 1.

Some 1,200 planners, architects, engineers and developers from around the world will share ideas to make cities more livable, walkable and sustainable.

Mayor Ralph Becker made the announcement to coincide with a visit by John Norquist, the former mayor of Milwaukee and president of the planning organization. Norquist will speak 2 p.m. Tuesday at the auditorium in Salt Lake City's Main Library, 210 E. 400 South.

Salt Lake City is honored to have been chosen as the site of the annual confab, Becker said. Planners and architects will get a good look at downtown and most likely serve up their opinions on what works and what could be better.

Norquist and top U.S. planners are fostering a re-imagining of urban areas that have suffered over the past 50 years as city dwellers have sought suburban lifestyles. Now, younger Americans along with senior citizens are moving back to urban cores.

Salt Lake City is a "great example" of the new urbanism, Norquist said, pointing to the fastest-growing rail system in the country, as well as the city's planning around mass transit and its walkability.

Becker said his administration has been gearing up for a new era in downtown living.

"We knew the empty-nesters and older population was looking for a change," he said. "But the surprise is that the younger generation is looking for urban living."

According to Norquist, the new movement toward city living is smashing old clich├ęs, like the so-called "American Dream" of home ownership in the suburbs.

"Salt Lake City is planning for a prosperous future," he said.

Planning lecture

Not So Big House author Sarah Susanka will join John Norquist, president of the Congress of the New Urbanism, for a 2 p.m. presentation and discussion Tuesday at the Salt Lake City Main Library's auditorium, 210 E. 400 South.

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