The site of the most deadly hate crime in modern U.S. history will likely be purchased by the City of Orlando and turned into a memorial.
City officials announced today that they've negotiated a price of $2.4 million to buy Pulse, the nightclub where a gunman and 49 others were killed in June.
“This location is now a permanent part of Orlando’s history,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “It’s the site of the most tragic event that has ever occurred in the City of Orlando. We want our entire community to be a part of this site.”
The site has been visited by President Obama, Vice President Biden, Hillary Clinton and her runningmate Tim Kaine, plus visiting world leaders, and a number of celebrities. But most frequently, it's visited by everyday people who want to remember those lost.
Talks about the club’s future took place for the past few months, according to Cassandra Lafser, press secretary for the mayor’s office, and a final price was reached this week. The Orlando City Council will vote on the purchase Monday, two days after Orlando’s annual pride celebration, Come Out With Pride.
On June 12, Fort Pierce man Omar Mateen opened fire in the Orlando LGBT club. In phone calls to police, Mateen swore an allegiance to leaders of ISIS. Mateen ultimately died at Pulse, where police shot him eight times before taking control of the club. Pulse regulars say Mateen frequented the club, leading to speculation he was gay, but family members and the FBI dismiss that.
The attack occurred on Latin night at Pulse, and a disproportionate number of victims were Latino. Dyer stresses the massacre, though, tore at all of Orlando, and the Pulse now should serve as memorial site recognized by the entire community.
“It has great significance, not just for the LGBTQ community and the Hispanic community, but for all of us that live and love Orlando,” Dyer said.
A timeline for turning Pulse into a formal memorial has not been set, but Dyer says the club will remain in its current state for the next 12 to 18 months. In the wake of the shooting, Pulse and the fencing surrounding turned into a makeshift monument to the fallen 49. The logo for the Pulse since became a mourning and rallying cry. But the site has also drawn trespassers and criminals breaking into the property, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Sentinel notes owners Barbara and Rosario Poma negotiated a price well beyond the $1.65 million appraised value of the club. Pulse has not re-opened since the shooting.
Barbara Poma opened the bar in 2004 and named it in honor of her later brother John, who died from AIDS in 1991. Poma issued a statement earlier this year expressing her desire for part of the club to include a memorial. Dyers said a public process will determine what sort of memorial gets created at the site.