The long-abandoned Mystery Lot on 14th Street between Second and Third Avenues? It's finally getting a bit of action. Construction aside, EV Grieve reports that a rather quirky marketing ploy has materialized on the site?on behalf of a glassy eight-story condo, The Jefferson, that's set to rise in that decrepit spot. On some blue scaffolding a poster (right) was recently plastered, touting that (and the bolding is theirs), "On the site of New York's first vaudeville theater, you can now live on a site once inhabited by W.C. Fields, Mae West, the Marx Brothers, Burns & Allen, Milton Berle and Jack Benny!"
It is true that the Mystery Lot was home to a little nugget of old New York, the Jefferson Theatre, which opened in 1913 and continued to operate till the 70s. It started out as a place for vaudeville and turned into an adult film showcase (details, details) until it was demolished in 2000. And now it's the condos' namesake! It may seem odd that a contemporary 83-unit building, which will include apartments with rooftop cabanas and amenities like a terrace with a kitchen and business lounges, is attempting to attract interest by invoking a bit of history. But it's sort of a trend these days: Chelsea's chic Walker Tower hosted an exhibition about eponymous architect Ralph Walker, in a sense resurrecting him from the dustbin of forgotten urban designers. Also in Chelsea, where 455 W. 20th St. will consist of General Theological Seminary offices-turned-condos, some much-beloved historic details are being preserved.
Now here's a bit of modern history for you: check out the Mystery Lot before, and below, what The Jefferson will look like down the line. Just a guess, but the Marx Brothers probably wouldn't have been comfortable performing there.