hen Brad Fratello and his partner moved into their downtown loft, the vista from their picture windows featured abandoned, graffiti-scarred buildings.
Now, the sound of jackhammers rings out like a serenade as long-empty spaces are reborn as posh lofts and new neighbors walk streets that only recently were desolate after nightfall.
Each day brings signs of progress, said Fratello, a professor of art history who moved downtown three years ago.
"New windows were put in. Somebody scraped the paint off this old sill. Just little things that mean they're getting cared for again," he said. "It's definitely a palpable, real feeling of a neighborhood springing up around you."