The owner of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub where 49 people were killed in a mass shooting June 12 has decided not to sell the nightclub to the city, which had planned to convert the building into a memorial to the victims.
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Pulse owner Barbara Poma in a statement said she “can’t just walk away” from the nightclub.
“I feel a personal obligation to ensure that a permanent space at Pulse be created so that all generations to come will remember those affected by, and taken on, June 12th,” Poma said in the statement, released by attorney Gus Benitez.
The city announced in November that it had a deal in place to buy the property for $2.25 million and turn it into a memorial. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at the time that the city planned to keep the nightclub “as-is” for about 12 to 18 months after purchasing it and then get community input for what to do with the site.
In response to Poma’s decision, Dyer put out a statement saying he respects the decision and is “hopeful the Pulse site will continue to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.” City Commissioner Patty Sheehan told ABC affiliate said she also respected Poma’s decision but was disappointed that the city did not purchase the property.
Poma did not give details about what she plans to do with the site, but said in her statement that she wants to “create a space for everyone, a sanctuary of hope and a welcoming area to remember all those affected by the tragedy.” She said she plans to work with “communities impacted by this tragedy, the families of the victims and any private or public sector individuals or organizations who wish to assist.”
The Orlando City Council was set to vote on whether to approve the deal on Nov. 14, but the vote was postponed.