December 5, 2016 at 5:04 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Pulse owner to no longer sell nightclub to Orlando

A makeshift memorial now surrounds the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A makeshift memorial now surrounds the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The owner of the Pulse nightclub on Monday said she will not sell the property to the city of Orlando.

“I have decided not to sell the Pulse property,” said Barbara Poma in a statement she released through her lawyers, according to Watermark, an LGBT newspaper that covers central Florida. “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.”

A gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others on June 12 when he opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub that is located less than two miles south of downtown Orlando. The massacre — which took place during a weekly Latino night — is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The city of Orlando last month announced it had agreed to purchase the Pulse nightclub from Poma for $2.25 million.

A makeshift memorial to the victims remains on a fence that now surrounds the nightclub. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a statement that announced the deal that the city would maintain the site “as is” for up to 18 months.

“We have been informed by the owners of Pulse that they do not plan to sell the nightclub location to the city,” said the city on Monday in a statement. “We understand that this was an incredibly difficult decision for the owners and we respect their decision and are hopeful the Pulse site will continue to be a place of hope and healing that honors the victims.”

Orlando officials added they remain committed to building a memorial that will honor those who died inside the nightclub.

“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,” they said. “City staff will continue to research and understand how other communities have approached the memorial process.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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