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

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Al Rendon is San Antonio's photographer. From landmarks to community leaders, Al has photographed the face and heart of San Antonio.