ORLANDO: Pulse Nightclub Owner Declines To Sell After City Makes Offer To Create Permanent Memorial

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse, said Monday that she does not plan to sell the nightclub to the city of Orlando. Mayor Buddy Dyer’s staff recently revealed that the city had negotiated a $2.25 million purchase price for the club, where 49 people were killed and dozens more were injured in a mass shooting June 12. The city hoped to eventually build a permanent memorial on the land.

In a press conference outside the club Monday afternoon, Poma said she struggled with the decision. “This decision truly came just from my heart and my passion for Pulse, and everything it’s meant to me and my family for the last 12 years since its inception,” she said, clutching her husband Rosario Poma’s hand. “So I think the struggle was you know, letting it go, and it’s just something I could not come to grips with.”

Poma said she did not yet know what the site will look like in the future, or if she will keep the existing club building in place. Poma has been raising funds under a non-profit called the onePULSE Foundation. Though most of the funds raised in 2016 have been promised to the National Compassion Fund, 10 percent will be set aside for a “permanent memorial at the existing site of Pulse Nightclub.”

  • Tiger Quinn

    I guess I thought it’d have a stronger statement as a memorial, rather than an ongoing club that might end up closing in a few years.

    • Mark

      Good point. For it not to reopen just seems that death/murderers won. But to see it razed to the ground for a CVS or QT later….ugh.

      Not sure how they could accomplish both.

      • Oscarlating Wildely

        I’m on a campus that opted to create an athletic field and moved bodies and gravestones to do so– shoved those stones right off the bridge, splash, glub, glub, glub. It always struck me as sick. There is something permanent about memorials, they are harder to move and shock people when they are. A nightclub razed for a Wal-Mart? Not so much.

  • Oikos

    On one hand keeping it as a club appeals to me but so does the memorial idea. What if the club goes out of business? The future is not looking great for gay clubs in the electronic age. A memorial owned by the city might be a smarter idea

    • witch

      Why can’t it be both ?

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    • Guest

      Add to the thoughts that as a club, it becomes a target for some future gun nut.

      I lived in Denver during Columbine and the major concern about turning the library into something else was the memorial part. But, with the old layout of the library, there was a concern that if even 1 gun got to that area, it would be just as bad. The new library has multiple exits, and they added exits to the whole school.

      I far prefer a city run memorial. They could deed some land near it for a new club.

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  • Boycott NC

    She probably made $2.2 Million a year before. Selling for that amount makes no sense.

    • Stubenville

      She can open a new club elsewhere. She’s just selling the physical property, not giving up her right to make a livelihood.

    • Mike Rasor

      I sense this is more about her feelings. She started the bar as a memorial to her brother who died of AIDS, and it’s just not going to be that easy to let go of the business and start over someplace else.

  • pj

    open it back up. living memorials are best.

  • Josh447

    if it dies in the future maybe the City would still buy it.

  • Tom G

    This sounds like her best sale option. Not much you can do with this property when the club finally goes under. I have no interest in having a drink and dancing in the space where these murders took place. I would visit a memorial if I was in town.

  • bkmn

    It has to be a very emotional decision to make, take your time. No one can fault you for thinking twice.

  • andrew

    Why not reopen it as a gay oriented Nightclub where people can enjoy life. Have a Memorial Wall with bronze plaques commemorating and remember all those innocent victims of hate.

    • another_steve

      ^^ Perfect.

      If it ceases to become a place of fun and of love and of community, the enemy has won.

    • melllt

      Maybe because forty nine people were murdered here. I like to think it’s called respect for the dead. I have no interest in buying two for one well drinks and dancing in a space that’s the site of a massacre.

      • Tiger Quinn

        Thank you. You’d think some things would be obvious.

      • andrew

        We obviously see things differently. If my life had been snuffed out by hate in that club, I would like the Club to reopen and show that people don’t allow the haters to win and to go on enjoying life.

      • Kate

        While I wouldn’t want to drink there, it’s sad to close the club and give a terrorist what he wanted.

        • Dramphooey

          You’ve stated why it can no longer be a club.

    • Bluto

      Aim for win-win. Either a significant memorial with a club attached or a club featuring a significant memorial.

      Obviously I can’t speak for the victims & their loved ones, but when I die I hope there is laughter, a celebration of life, a display of love & an open bar rather than a sad procession past my hussied-up carcass on display. There is nothing wrong with expressing joy on solemn ground.

      • greenmanTN

        LOL. Your comment comment made me think of my grandmother’s funeral. There she was with all this make-up on, rouge, lipstick, etc. and I’m standing there looking at her and a distant relative said to me, “Oh, they (the funeral home) did such a good job. She looks so good.”

        I swear I try, but I’m not known for my tact, especially back then.

        “Yeah, she hasn’t looked that good since she was walking the streets!”

  • Stubenville

    Eminent domain. Make it a public park.

  • ByronK

    Who needs a memorial? More than ever, we need safe spaces to be ourselves.

    • djcoastermark

      We need both.

  • Natty Enquirer

    I’m with Barbara. Keep it a place to be out, proud and loud. There is enough solemnity in the world.

  • Michael C

    I’m all for whoever owns the property doing what they want with it. Debating what they should or shouldn’t do with their own club seems a bit wrong.

    If the owners don’t want to sell their property to the city, the city can erect a memorial on government managed land.

  • djcoastermark

    I have very mixed feelings about this. We recently paid our respects. Although they have tried to cover up most of the damage, there is still quite a bit of tearful visual reminders of what happened. Let us never forget, let us always stand strong together. ( and my tears are now flowing again) This is the first time I have viewed the pictures we took a month ago. It’s been to difficult. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c51aeffc794dc7280aee4e3a1825222a862cb90b84f6977829bb83bc8daa15b7.jpg

    • Guest

      I walked Rebel Field with over 100 rows of flowers piled between knee and waste high, flowers shipped in from all over the world.

      I had to walk out after 3 rows. I think it was 140 something rows. I could not stand the smell of flowers for years.

      • Oscarlating Wildely

        We were there together then.
        I remember the field but also a car that one of the victims’. It was covered with flowers and notes. To this day, I think of it if anyone is kind enough to leave either, even in friendship. I worked with some of those kids. Two things: 1) You are quite right on the memorial and exits. 2) There is something creepy about the public response. I remember people stopping by the school taking photos and posing like they had guns. That was one of the most chilling memories of the place.
        I left Colorado, not my cup of tea. That image stayed with me.

        • Silver Badger

          Colorado has much to be ashamed of in its response to Columbine. We have our share of fools and our share of the RWNJ community. Both both were reprehensible. But remember, they got the press. Those of us who worked our way through the tragedy and moved on, prefered to do so on quietly. We didn’t want or need the publicity.

          • Guest

            I also lived in Denver during Matthew Shepard. I knew 2 people who knew him just a tiny bit, but were not close.

            A few years later at 2 different charity events, about a year apart, I met Judy, his mother twice. She is amazing. And yet, both times, when I was home, I shed some years for her after the meetings.

        • Guest

          That was Rachel’s car. I knew her family. I worked with her mom.

          I had gone back to school and was home for work and watching TV, screaming at it for the police to get in there. They knew they were outgunned and refused. No amount of lies will change that.

          Where did you move to? I left because it wss so expensive there and the economy is so up and down.

          I lost it and had to go back to the car. I just could not take more flowers. I went with 4 friends and most quit a row or so after me.

        • Guest

          How and where did you work with those kids? I volunteered at rainbow Alley for a while and was surprised at those kids not seeming to know people from the school. Sometimes I wonder if that was an act.

          And for the record, for a group of non traditional kids, almost all gay kids, and a couple of trans kids back in 1998 etc, I never had my ass kicked in monopoly as much as my every other Friday night game at the drop in center. They got to pick what they wanted to do and it was always that game, a capitalism game. I laughed. And they were cut throat. I wonder whatever happened to some of them.

      • djcoastermark

        a thousand tears, yet I cry for happy.

    • Guest

      That would be Columbine.

      • djcoastermark

        Yes, Columbine and Pulse. The pic is of Pulse. But let us never, ever forget what hate does to all the good people.

        • Guest

          My apologies. I was trying to define rebel field as part of Columbine. I had just noted the field in my first comment.

          • djcoastermark

            no need to apologize. It is all tragic and all must be honored and remembered. Thank you.

    • Kate

      Thank you for posting that. Fallen, not forgotten.

    • clay

      The memorial and continued use at Kent State still shows a bullet hole (in a public sculpture, which became evidence of National Guard wrong-doing) and locations of deaths, but is not a building interior, and is not a site for celebration. I don’t know how to balance the memory of violence with a party.

    • _important_ photograph.

  • Fafnir the thurifer

    Perhaps a good “both/and” solution might be a combined memorial and Community Center. This could include function space for celebrations, but also space for groups that serve and support the LGBT* community as well.

    I hope it will be possible to let some time pass before locking in a final decision, so that some community agreement can emerge – Joan.

    • Guest

      Not a bad idea. And allow LGBTQ-P organizations to rent a space cheaply where they can all be under one room. That saves the city money too.

      Toss in a hospice center, say 30 rooms for those dying of anything.

      You get a living memorial that way. The city can own the land and building and have an area for the memorial while groups can play a part.

  • lenvus

    I would hesitate in trusting the City of Orlando to correctly memorialize the victims of the Pulse Massacre as they truly were – focusing on their correct and unique identities. Would not a memorial left in the hands of the City of Orlando become rife with themes of terrorism, “hyper-Americanization,” and bland-neutralization of identity? No longer were the 49 victims members of the LGBTQ community, members of the Latinx community. No, they now are 49 Americans massacred, just like the white, cisgendered, heterosexual people to whom Pulse Nightclub — while also catering to — presented an alternative. And, of course, conservatives will be able to claim this memorial as their own, focusing that “‘Islamofacist’ terrorism” is directed at LGBT people, so their own slate can be wiped clean.

    No, I think the Pulse Nightclub is safe in the right hands for now.


      This what I’m thinking. Until I’d know what the intent is, I’m thinking, “memorial my ass”!!
      All we need is Rubio, Rick Scott, a version of Juliani, or worst trump himself who could give 2 shits about our community, now making photo ops out of the deal, only when it benefits them.

  • Oscarlating Wildely

    It is difficult as I see that yes, having a place that is safe to enjoy life is perhaps the most fitting memorial and a nice big fuck you to the haters.
    Having note, solace and reflection is also a way to work through grief. Will people recall in 20 years what happened there sans a memorial of some type? Honestly, I doubt it/. Example: one of the worst tragedies to affect factory workers in NYC, and arguably the nation, occurred in 1911 in the building that now houses a gallery for NYU. Sans mention, it’s shocking how few people know what happened there and those who do have a strange response of “wait, was it this building or that one?” Without memorial, it’s hard to recall.

  • I appreciate the owner’s sentiments, but any club experience there in the near future will have a black cloud hanging over it. No one really wants to party at the site of a massacre. They may end up having to sell.

    I hope Im wrong on that account.

  • pablo

    Call me a cynic, but she’s probably holding out for more money.

    • Silver Badger

      You’re a cynic. You could be right, but are probably not.

  • djcoastermark

    Remember Bataclan in France with Sting for the re-opening? As I said, I am torn, but Sting did honor that night in Paris. Hopefully , if this is what will happen to Pulse, it may be a good thing.

    • Bj Lincoln

      I can understand how her feelings seem to have strongly influenced her decision but the club won’t always be there. A city owned memorial will. Get an accountant and go on vacation. Start something else. Donate your time / volunteer.

      • djcoastermark

        I agree too, that is why I am torn. I would like to see a permanent memorial. But yes, donating my time for something good is what I prefer.

  • DannyDino

    Strange and odd plan seems to be lurking in her suspect agenda. Did the owners of the Twin Towers, the Oklahoma Federal Building, or other such important sites of socio-political importance balk at the idea of paying tribute to the lost lives there? The Sandy Hook School ,in CONN, yes, the OLD school was razed, and a new one built, but there is certainly plenty of remembrance on that site as well. I cannot imagine HOW the club might somehow bounce-back from a mass-murder shooting. Sadly, pathetically, the Pulse building, if kept as an lgbtq-oriented club / bar will be again under threat of attack. That’s how foreign and or domestic terrorists and Hate Crime perpetrators think. The buyout offer was generous and high-minded and ethical, so why hold on to the property in the way she seems to want to? Does she think it will become a tourist trap or money-maker or something? Does she think it’s notoriety and fame can be financially capitalized upon? If i were to go there, i’d go there to cry and honor the victims, and hopefully learn an ethical lesson. i’m NOT going to go to dance and drink the night away, or buy some t-shirt or other iffy-ethical souvenirs,please Joe-My-God, let that NOT be her long-range plan here. And I’m definitely not going to pay 10 bucks a beer, to be in the spot where 100 logbq & allies were shot in. I can very well sob myself to exhaustion OUTSIDE the club, perhaps a better choice for me at least.

  • SDG

    The best memorial… is to keep living. I don’t believe the answer is to raze a building and put up a memorial. I think the place should re-open… and have a memorial somewhere on the site.

    If you do that… it’s a win for the bad guys!

  • EqualityForAll

    Apparently, a mere $2.25 million was not enough for her to let go. I wonder what amount she was actually seeking. It just sounds so far-fetched to me that the owner of a building with that kind of tragic history would form such an emotional bond with its walls. It’s always about the money.

    • leastyebejudged

      Have you ever owned property ?

      Ever started and ran a business ?

      What makes you think your opinion of the value of something that is not yours matters, or should matter ?

      • EqualityForAll

        Yes, I’ve owned lots of properties – ones that I’ve been emotionally attached to as well. But, that emotional bond could always be broken if the price was right.

        And yes, I’ve started businesses – and sold them. If the price was right.

        My opinion matters a lot. If Barbara Poma is weeping over a bullet-riddled nightclub, it has nothing to do with an emotional attachment and everything to do with the price she was offered. Get over yourself you moron.

        • leastyebejudged

          Lol, liar.