Annual Congress for the New Urbanism conference being held in Savannah

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - More than 1,500 people from around the country are in Savannah for the 26th annual Congress for the New Urbanism.

Architects, developers, and officials from other cities are travelling to the Hostess City to learn how to improve the quality of life in their communities.

The Congress for the New Urbanism says the city of Savannah exemplifies great urbanism and design.

"People from all over the country and around 30 different countries want to come here to study the squares, the street grid, walkability, and the historic district," Congress for the New Urbanism President and CEO Lynn Richards says.

Throughout the next three days, there will be more than 100 sessions and tours. Planners, architects, and developers from around the world will meet to discuss issues such as urbanism for small towns and cities, social equity, and the challenges of getting great places built.

This year, they'll focus on small to medium cities. Richards says designing new concepts for smaller cities can be tough.

"How do you grow and develop a vibrant downtown when your rate of growth is so much smaller than San Francisco."

During the convention, several national and local speakers will present information concerning urbanism. Attendees will also get to hear about the City of Savannah's 2033 downtown plan and community improvements which could be coming to both the east side of Savannah, as well as the south side.

On Tuesday, community leaders and participants of this year's convention met ahead of the convention to discuss the future vision for Savannah's downtown. Local leaders are working on a 2033 plan because that's the year Savannah will celebrate its 300th birthday.

Ana Colsta is studying to be an urban designer at Boise State University. She's in Savannah for the first time to learn more about her future career field.

"Savannah seems to be the perfect place to be right now. I think I'm going to see a lot and learn a lot," Colstas says.

This year, there's an opportunity for the public to be a part of the convention. There are several free public events for Savannah residents . Event details can be found here.

"This is a chance to dialogue and have a conversation like 'I don't like the idea of bike lanes' or 'Why do I have to give up my parking space?' Let's have these conversations. If we continue to have these conversations among the urban designers , we're not going to move the conversation forward," Richards says.

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