May 14, 2012 | last updated May 14, 2012 11:58 am

Creating the post-auto city

New Urbanism: Creative Models for Innovation and Growth

When: Thursday, May 17

Where: Doubletree Hilton, South Portland

Info and registration:

With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon and home foreclosures continuing with no end in sight, more and more people are ditching the suburbs and moving to the city. While that trend is great for downtown businesses and landlords, it can leave city leaders scratching their heads about where to put everybody and how to move them from point A to B.

That will be the focus of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association's spring conference on May 17, "New Urbanism: Creative Models for Innovation and Growth."

The conference will focus on ways to meet the increasing demand for pedestrian- and bike-friendly communities within cities, where folks can get what they need within a block or two of their homes without hopping into vehicles. Making this transition is not easy, especially for cities built for automobiles.

Lara Hodgson, of Atlanta-based investment/development/management firm Insomnia, is scheduled to talk about ways to turn challenges of urban population flux into opportunities; anticipate future trends; and communicate innovative ideas to improve infrastructure.

Later, Chris Leinberger, a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, will discuss U.S. market demand for walkable developments in small and medium-sized cities, making it an economic imperative for cities to adjust. Leinberger, also the president of national transit-oriented development advocate LOCUS, will talk about ways Maine could create financing approaches for walkable urban developments and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, three local panelists will discuss new urbanism in Maine: Portland Planning Division Director Alex Jaegerman; John Rohman, a Maine certified interior designer and professional engineer in Bangor; and Patrick Venne, a land-use attorney, planner and author based in the Lewiston-Auburn area.


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