City of Orlando approves $2 million purchase of Pulse Nightclub property

The City of Orlando has approved the purchase of the Pulse Nightclub property.

After heated testimony from both the public and commissioners, commissioners put aside their differences and voted to unanimously approve the purchase.

Plans for a permanent memorial on the nightclub property fell through when the onePULSE foundation was unable to reach an agreement with Pulse owner and onePULSE founder Barbara Poma, her husband, Rosario Poma, and their business partner, Michael Panaggio, the foundation said earlier this year. 

The nonprofit foundation, established to create a permanent Pulse memorial and museum, had been at odds with Poma on where to build the complex. 

The foundation said it had previously planned to build a national memorial on the grounds of the Pulse Nightclub. In the months following the shooting on June 12, 2016, the nightclub property had been turned into an interim memorial lined with photographs of the victims and rainbow-colored flowers and mementos. 

In July, the foundation announced it terminated its lease of the property on S. Orange Ave.  

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Much of the disagreement during Monday's discussion to purchase the property was over the $2 million the city would pay the owners. Some survivors and victims' relatives said it was too much money for a couple they allege had already made lots of money since the tragedy.

"We stand here and watch the responsible parties team up and put $2 million into pockets of the Pomas, while they both claim Pulse was up-to-code and without violations," one speaker said.

Then commissioners got their turn to speak, with Jim Gray and Regina Hill getting into a spat over the cost.  The most dramatic moment was when Patty Sheehan addressed the deal's critics.

"It is possible to move forward, it is possible to do good. I never, ever thought I would ever experience anything like that, and I will never get out my head the screams of those mothers as they found out their children died, when I was on the street with them," Commissioner Sheehan said. "So don't tell me that I don't care, that I don't feel this."

The city has not yet detailed plans for the site. The closing date for the purchase is Oct. 27.