ORLANDO – The city of Orlando has reached a deal to buy the Pulse nightclub for $2.25 million and plans to eventually transform the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history into a memorial.
Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel that the city won’t rush to change the club, once a mainstay in the gay community that has become a gathering place for visiting and local mourners alike.
“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 said.
In the meantime, the city plans to solicit ideas from the community for what form the lasting memorial should take. Dyer said the city hasn’t ruled out leaving part of the club intact permanently, such as the roadside sign featuring its now-iconic logo.
The city’s ultimate goal, he said, will be 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 price negotiated by city staff is more than the $1.65 million appraised value of the nightclub, a 4,500-square-foot building occupying a third of an acre at South Orange Avenue and West Esther Street.
Dyer said the sale price was a compromise reached during negotiations with the club’s owners, whose attorney did not return a call seeking comment.
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.
The nightclub has been empty since June 12, when a gunman opened fire during a Latin-themed dance party, killing 49 people and wounding dozens more. Since the massacre, mourners have flowed steadily to the site to pay their respects, leaving behind photos, notes, stuffed animals and other remembrances.
The visitors have at times been disruptive to nearby businesses and residents, creating parking troubles, crowding sidewalks and prompting safety concerns. The club was also the victim of at least one break-in about a month after the tragedy.