Orlando to buy Pulse nightclub and turn it into a permanent memorial

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The city of Orlando has announced plans to purchase the Pulse nightclub and turn it into a permanent memorial to the victims of the mass shooting earlier this year.

The city will pay $2.25 million for the site, more than the $1.65 million appraised value of the nightclub, which has been a busy visiting spot for mourners since the attack this June, which left 49 people dead and wounded dozens more.

The sales contract was signed last week by the club’s owner, Rosario Poma, but still needs to be approved by Orlando’s City Council, which will discuss it next week.

If it goes ahead, it’s not yet clear what form the future memorial will take, and the city is taking suggestions from locals while it waits for the right time to begin work.

“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,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told The Orlando Sentinel.

He said the city’s goal is to “create something to honour the memory of the victims that are deceased [and] those that were injured, and a testament to the resilience of our community.”

City authorities plan to reach out to other communities that have suffered similar tragedies for memorial suggestions.

“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 club itself has been empty since the June 12 attack, but has drawn crowds of mourners hoping to pay their respects, creating some crowding problems and safety concerns.

Pulse was also the victim of a break-in a month after the attack, and it’s hoped that the city’s purchase will help keep it secure.

“Now, we can actually secure it like we would any other piece of city property,” Dyer said.

Orlando recently released the audio of the Pulse shooter’s 911 calls from the night of the attack following a court order.

A Singaporean man was fined $2,500 last week over a homophobic Facebook post that went viral after the Pulse shooting, and seemed to threaten violence against the LGBT community.