What do we do with the CBD?
It's a question towns and cities all over New Zealand are grappling with, including the two biggest Bay of Plenty centres, Tauranga and Rotorua.
There's no doubt both CBDs are in tough times - dying, some will say - and there is no one reason why. Few of their many challenges are unique in New Zealand.
There's also no single saviour - and that includes having ratepayers subsidise free and expansive parking for shoppers.
I find it a bit odd that the conversation around CBDs usually centres around a perceived goal of saving retail, trying to give those businesses a shot at competing against malls for customers.
It's nice to support local businesses but it's not what a CBD is about, at its core.
If we want ruthlessly capitalist zones that offer shoppers a frictionless experience - air conditioning, free parking, escalators, all their favourite brands - then we should just call it a day and let some developer turn our downtowns into massive malls.
Heck, chuck some office spaces in there as well. Stick a bus terminal in the basement and we can all efficiently complete our tasks without ever having to glimpse the outdoors.
I truly detest the thought.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is no place for retail in CBDs.
They are a fantastic place for locally-grown enterprise. These are the unique businesses desperately hanging on in CBDs as the big brands jump ship, willing to innovate and make their offering work for changing customer wants.
As CBDs increasingly become places to live as well as work and shop and catch up with friends, we also need places that sell the necessities, and that's fine too.
But, to me, a successful retail scene is a byproduct of a great CBD, not its raison d'être.
Same goes for hospitality, entertainment, white-collar businesses.
If the conversation starts with trying to design our CBDs to save particular sectors that are themselves constantly being reinvented, we won't create anything that will stand the test of time.
I'd like to see us start with identity - looking for ways to make the CBD into places that reflect our aspirations as a city and the things that make us great. Our waterfronts should have a huge role in this.
If we can design downtowns that inspire pride, have soul and make residents feel part of something special, I think the commercial offering will build off it - and tourists will love it too.
Let's not try and replicate the mall experience downtown. We'll never win.
Let's be what a mall could never be. A place that feels like home.