By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"It's very sad," say Heberlein. "It is a landmark and I had hoped that someone would say, 'Please don't tear it down.' But the area is so bad that there's really nothing that can be done."
@body:Although it's now a moot point, local historic preservationists reluctantly agree.
"Within the whole preservation movement, the concern over preserving the recent past is probably one of the thorniest issues," concedes Deborah Abele, who reports that Valley preservationists have repeatedly discussed the Kon Tiki's fate, even though the group is helpless to do anything.
"Unfortunately, the Kon Tiki is not even close to meeting the necessary criteria," she says, pointing out that to qualify for historic preservation, a building must meet "pages" of prerequisites.
If nothing else, Abele points out the Kon Tiki is simply not old enough; in order to even qualify for consideration, a building must be at least 50 years old. As a result, local preservationists fear that in a city as young as Phoenix, where entire blocks are routinely razed, there may one day be no architectural sign of the Sixties whatsoever. "The Kon Tiki certainly had kitsch value, there's no doubt about that," concedes Dave Wright, vice chairman of the historic preservation commission. "But as far as historic value, I don't think we've come to grips with that yet.
"The cycle between when something is built and when it's torn down and redeveloped has become so fast now that it's really hard to say that something is 'historic' after only 30 years. If we were to say, 'Here's this 1960s motel and it's historic,' I think a lot of people would think we had to be joking."
Still, Wright regrets seeing the Kon Tiki come tumbling down; he still has fond memories of once spending the night there with his family in the Sixties.
"As kids, we were just entranced by the place because it had the huts and the roof and everything--it was just really great," he recalls. "It's sad to see it come to such an ignoble end. But if you think about it, what has happened to the Kon Tiki is the story of what has happened to Van Buren, right there.