Rendon Retrato: Debra Maltz, Downtown Maven

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Downtown maven Debra Maltz. Photo by Al Rendon.

Downtown maven and real estate executive Debra Maltz. Photo by Al Rendon.

Words by Debra Maltz:

I have been putting residents in downtown living since the Casino Building in 1978, with the Losoya Building on the other side of the river shortly after. I remember sitting in the Casino Building thinking that nobody would want to live downtown. The Casino Building was the first rehab, kind of the beginning of the renaissance downtown, and that building is full and vibrant all the way to today.

You can go to any city, travel around the world, and you discover that the heart of any city is its downtown core. That doesn’t mean that everybody lives there, but in my mind, if you have a vibrant heart, you have a healthy body. So if you have a downtown where people are living and working and playing, it’s going to spread out and energize the whole city. I think the move downtown is happening all over the United States. After World War II, everybody wanted to move to the suburbs and have a house with a yard to raise their families.

That’s still a good lifestyle, but we kind of lost something when we moved out. You don’t run into people on the street as much, there’s not a lot of sitting out on the porch – the suburbs are kind of insular. Now, it’s not just the price of gasoline drawing people back downtown, I think people are looking for a sense of community again and realizing that if they live in a more dense residential neighborhood, they’re going to have a lot more going on in their lives.

It’s appealing to all kinds of people – old people, young people, families. Our inner city is growing well, and the growth is spreading to the neighborhoods on the edge of downtown – we have an especially cool downtown, making a place for the creative class. We’re kind of shy on the retail side, but it’s going well.


Al Rendon

Al Rendon


Al Rendon is San Antonio’s photographer. He has spent a lifetime documenting our iconic places and unique culture. You can see more of his work at




More Rendon Retratos:

Davíd Zamora Casas, Artist

Michael Mehl, Photographer

Ricardo Romo, UTSA President and Photographer

Diego Bernal, City Councilman, DJ, Lawyer

Lori Houston, Center City Development Office Director

Naomi Shihab Nye, Poet

Davis Sprinkle, Architect

Patricia González MaassInstituto Cultural de México Director

Bill Sinkin, Civil Rights Advocate and “Sun King”

Jorge Cortez, Artist and Restaurateur

Veronica Prida, Artist

Robert Tatum, Artist


9 thoughts on “Rendon Retrato: Debra Maltz, Downtown Maven

  1. Today, we walked to a neighborhood restaurant, saw two sets of friends and joined them. As they left, another family walked in and joined us. Before we left, we chatted with more friends. All within a 5 minute walk from our home. Only problem with downtown? You can’t go anywhere without seeing people you know ;-).

  2. Born in the inner city, and I stayed in the inner city when I bought my house…..away from the over-priced, congested and antiseptic sameness of the suburbs.

  3. Debbie is right on. Living in denser neighborhoods where we can walk to amenities is a big part of living more sustainably. It’s the key to a vibrant city.

  4. You are looking great Debbie. Thank you so much for helping so many folks get into living downtown and that includes me. You are wonderful.

  5. Debbie, thank you for all you do and for getting me involved with Downtown Alliance as a volunteer several years ago with the Urban Spaces tour. You really make being downtown appealing and have helped so many make downtown their home. Thanks for all of your support to so many downtown businesses. Your picture is beautiful as you are too! Thank you for all your hard work.

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