In a bit of unexpected Monday morning news, Pulse Orlando owner Barbara Poma has decided that she would not accept the city of Orlando’s bid of $2.25 million for the property, even after weeks of Mayor Buddy Dyer calling the transaction an effective done deal.
There are a lot of questions about what that means for the space in the future, and we have calls out to all interested parties. But the Orlando Sentinel reports that a statement was released by Poma’s attorney this morning that detailed a change in course. She “can’t just walk away,” it reads, because Pulse “means so very much to my family and to our community.
Her intentions, though vague in the statement, seem to be similar to what the city’s were. The full statement, received from her attorneys at Benitez Law Group, is as follows.
“I have decided not to sell the Pulse property. Pulse means so very much to my family and to our community, and I can’t just walk away. 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.”
“I intend to create a space for everyone, a sanctuary of hope, and a welcoming area to remember all those affected by the tragedy. I plan to do that directly with the involvement of the communities impacted by this tragedy, the families of the victims and any private or public sector individuals or organizations who wish to assist. We must do this together as a community.”
“I hope the love and support we have seen through this time from around the world and here at home will continue as we join together to b uild a place to memorialize our Angels.”
When asked about the change of plans, city spokeswoman Heather Fagan said in a text, “Not sure there is much of a scoop. Barbara has said she wasn’t emotionally ready to sell.”
The mayor subsequently released an official statement, according to the Orlando Weekly.
“We respect their decision and are hopeful the Pulse site will continue to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.
We believe it is important for the community to have input into a memorial that honors the victims and pays tribute to the resiliency of Orlando. City staff will continue to research and understand how other communities have approached the memorial process.
As we better understand that process, and after engaging with our Commissioners and community partners, we’ll update the community on the next steps.”
We will be attending a press conference at 4 p.m. and report back with what we find out.
We spoke with Poma briefly outside of Pulse at 4 p.m. where an impromptu press conference was held. Understandably, there wasn’t much to report.
I think the next steps are that we truly have a process,” she says. “We need to start collecting ourselves and reaching out to our community and figuring out where to go.”
Asked whether there would be a nightclub, a park, a restaurant, a museum, she indicated that all of those things were premature at this point. She just, as she said in her earlier statement, “couldn’t walk away.”
Others from the Pulse staff in attendance seemed to indicate that they agreed with this decision. And though some have mentioned that the city government is a bit taken aback by the refusal of the deal, Poma is confident that Orlando is still with her. She just needs some time, some experts and some healing before making the final decision on what to do with what was Pulse Orlando.
“The mayor is good,” she says. “Patty Sheehan is good. They understand.”