The city of Orlando’s proposal to purchase Pulse nightclub and turn it into a memorial fell through Monday when the venue’s owner decided she couldn’t part with the space.
Last month, Orlando officials announced plans to buy Pulse and turn it into a permanent memorial to honor the victims and survivors of the horrific June 12 mass shooting there. The city offered owner Barbara Poma (below) $2.25 million for the club.
Though Poma initially agreed to the idea, she has since backed out of the deal, saying it would be too hard to let go of the club she founded in the memory of her brother who died from AIDS-related complications.
“This decision truly came just from my heart and my passion for Pulse, and everything it’s meant to me and my family for the past 12 years,” she explained in a Monday press conference. “So I think the struggle was you know, letting it go, and it’s just something I could not come to grips with.”
In response, mayor Buddy Dyer wrote, “We have been informed by the owners of Pulse that they do not plan to sell the nightclub location to the City.”
“We understand that this was an incredibly difficult decision for the owners and we respect their decision and are hopeful the Pulse site will continue to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.”
“We believe it is important for the community to have input into a memorial that honors the victims and pays tribute to the resiliency of Orlando,” he continued. “City staff will continue to research and understand how other communities have approached the memorial process.”
He concluded: “As we better understand that process, and after engaging with our commissioners and community partners, we’ll update the community on the next steps.”
Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the GLBT Center of Central Florida, counseled Poma as she struggled with her decision and urged her to “go with what’s in your heart.”
“It’s so early,” he added. “I’m sure, within the next few months, things will come out and [Poma], with input from others, people that were there and other organizations, will come up with a plan.”