Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told the Orlando Sentinel on Monday that the city of Orlando has reached a deal to buy the Pulse nightclub for $2.25 million and plans to eventually transform the site of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history into a memorial.
Dyer says the city will not rush to change the once-popular LGBT nightclub which has now become a gathering place for visiting mourners to pay their respects, many of whom leave behind photos, notes, stuffed animals and other remembrances.
“There are lots of people that are making a visit to the site part of their trip, part of their experience of Orlando, so I think 12 to 18 months of leaving it as-is would be appropriate,” Dyer said.
He said the city’s ultimate goal is to “create something to honor the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”
The city will ask the community for their input as to what form the permanent memorial should take. Dyer said the city is considering leaving part of the club intact permanently, including the roadside sign.
“We’re still gathering information,” Dyer said. “We’re looking around the country for some people that have done something like this before. There are some folks with expertise related to this.”
The Orlando Sentinel adds:
“Now, we can actually secure it like we would any other piece of city property,” he said.
In September, the city removed the black chain-link fence that had surrounded the club since soon after the shooting, replacing it with a new barrier farther back from the road, wrapped in a screen which features images created by local artists.
Those killed in the Pulse massacre have been commemorated in many ways, but the city has kept mum on the specifics of its plans for a permanent memorial. Dyer first floated the idea of buying the nightclub in a radio interview in August.
The club has already drawn onlookers from across the globe, as far flung as the prime minister of Luxembourg. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton laid flowers outside the club during a visit to Orlando in July.
Barbara Poma opened the bar in 2004, naming it Pulse in honor of her brother John, who died of AIDS in 1991. It was a local landmark in the gay community, often the first bar a gay or lesbian young person would visit in Orlando.