It was a little more than six years ago, Dec. 28, 2000, when tiny Lex Street in West Philadelphia made national headlines as the scene of the worst massacre in city history - 10 people gunned down, seven fatally.

Lex Street is again making news, but quietly.

Yesterday, residents joined city officials in a ribbon-cutting to reopen the tragedy-scarred street, now lined with new rowhouses.

"It's about time; it's good to see the city keep its promises to its poorer citizens," said Grady Simms, a neighbor on nearby 48th Street near Parrish.

"For a long time, that block was scary. Drug dealers, shooting all night. Now, my grandkids can visit."

That was the sentiment of many in attendance, who watched in horror years ago as the neighborhood went from bad to worse.

Now, the clock has turned again and the future looks promising.

"Many of the houses were abandoned, boarded up, and used as places of anti-social behavior, drug use and prostitution," said Carl R. Greene, executive director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, which built the homes.

He was joined by District Attorney Lynne Abraham, U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan and Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, among others.

"We're making a statement with these new houses," Greene said. "We're saying to drug dealers, criminals and thugs, you are not welcome on this block or this neighborhood."

He said the new homes were part of the PHA's Lucien E. Blackwell Homes, which will occupy most of this section of West Philly once it's complete. The project is named after Jannie Blackwell's late husband, the former councilman and congressman who died almost four years ago.

"This is very, very important," she said. "I remember we initially honored this project with his name, because he knew what a difference it would make."

New resident Dadia DuPont, 31, is anxious to be a part of this community, and is not disturbed by Lex Street's violent history.

DuPont has keys to her house on Lex Street, and will move in shortly. She and her four children moved from North Philadelphia.

"I don't know too much about [Lex Street's] past, I only know what I've seen on TV," DuPont said. "But the future is here, and we're going to keep it together."

Block captain Cynthia Walden will help keep that promise.

This is really nice, and this block has come a long way," Walden said. "Everyone needs a chance and a new beginning."

Walden has lived in the area for 40 years, the last 30 as block captain. Before the houses were razed she heard gunshots almost nightly, she recalled.

"I'm confident the block will stay like this, with the support of the neighbors and us working together," she said. "I'm sure that everything will continue to grow."

Yesterday, Abraham stood in front of the new home that occupies the site of the 2000 slayings.

"Like a wound that would never heal, Lex Street had to be destroyed so that upon the rubble of the destroyed houses would be a beginning for this community," she said. "It became symbolic of everything that was wrong with our society. And now, I want to encourage all the people to make this neighborhood grow and flourish again."