The future of Orlando's Pulse nightclub was thrown into doubt yesterday (December 6) after the venue's owner halted plans to sell the club to the city, according to the Orlando Sentinel
Last month the city of Orlando announced plans to buy the club and turn it into a permanent memorial
to the victims and survivors of Omar Mateen's anti-LGBT terrorist attack, in which 49 people died. The city offered owner Barbara Poma $2.25 million - $600,000 more than its appraised value.
However Poma, who opened Pulse 12 years ago in memory of her brother who died from an Aids-related illness, has now backed out of the sale, telling reporters during a news conference yesterday that she has struggled with the idea of "letting... [the club] go."
“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. “So I think the struggle was you know, letting it go, and it’s just something I could not come to grips with.”
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said: “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 honours the victims.
“We believe it is important for the community to have input into a memorial that honours the victims and pays tribute to the resiliency of Orlando. City staff will continue to research and understand how other communities have approached the memorial process.
“As we better understand that process, and after engaging with our commissioners and community partners, we’ll update the community on the next steps.”
Patty Sheehan, one of the officials who has supported the city's purchase of Pulse, said that she respected Poma's decision to back away from the sale. “I’m distressed by the decision, but I support Barbara’s decision,” she said. Poma has admitted that she is unsure what the future will hold for the club, which has remained empty since the night of the shootings on 12 June.
Terry DeCarlo, the executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Florida, said that he advised Poma to “go with what’s in your heart,” as she deliberated over whether or not to sell the club.
“I would not wish what this woman is going through on any person in the world,” DeCarlo added.
He admitted that, like Poma, he was unsure what would happen to the club next. “It’s so early,” he said. “I’m sure, within the next few months, things will come out and [Poma], with input from others, people that were there and other organisations, will come up with a plan.”