The city of Orlando has reached a deal to buy the Pulse nightclub and will turn the site into a permanent memorial to the 49 people killed and 53 injured when a gunman walked into the club in the early morning hours of June 12 and opened fire with a semiautomatic, assault-style rifle.
The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting committed by one person in U.S. history. The gunman was killed by police.
The city has agreed to pay $2.25 million for the club, and Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel the city won’t be rushing to change the club, which has become a gathering place for mourners — both locals and visitors.
“There are lots of people that are making a visit to the site part of their trip, part of their experience of Orlando, so I think 12 to 18 months of leaving it as-is would be appropriate,” Dyer told the newspaper.
Many of those who have visited the site since the shooting have left behind photos, notes, stuffed animals and more. The Orange County Regional History Center has collected many of the items to preserve them. A black chain-link fence had surrounded the club since right after the shooting. The city removed that fence in September, replacing it with a new barrier placed further back from the road and wrapped in a screen featuring images created by local artists.
The mayor also said city officials will be asking the community for ideas on what form the memorial should take, and that they haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving at least some part of the site intact — for instance, the roadside sign bearing the “now-iconic” Pulse logo.
Dyer said the ultimate goal is to “create something to honor the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”
The sales contract with the city was signed Friday by Rosario Poma, who owns the club with his wife, Barbara. Orlando’s City Council, which has the final say on the deal, will weigh in on it next week. Barbara Pomo opened in the bar in 2004 and named it Pulse in honor of her brother, John, who died of AIDS in 1991.
Below is video from the city of Orlando website of Mayor Buddy Dyer explaining the decision to buy the site: