OnePULSE Foundation speaks out after announcing it would dissolve organization

ORLANDO, Fla. — OnePULSE Foundation spoke out for the first time Tuesday since it announced it was dissolving.


Orange County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to discuss the next steps with a tourist development tax funding agreement with the foundation after OnePULSE announced it is not moving forward with the museum project.

In 2018, Orange County allotted $10 million in Tourist Development Tax funds for OnePULSE to build a museum. The county said the organization spent $6.5 million buying property and designing the museum.

In October, OnePULSE announced it was no longer moving forward with the museum.

Just last week, the county said the organization has been leasing out the property meant for the museum without the county’s approval.

Read: Orange County leaders discuss millions given to canceled Pulse nightclub museum

Some county commissioners described the situation as a “mess,” “poor decisions,” and a “misuse of funds.”

OnePULSE says they are upset that the project is not happening and the foundation is dissolving. However, OnePULSE representatives said they did everything they could.

“I feel very proud that the process was accurate,” said George Kalogrisdis, vice chairman of the OnePULSE Foundation Board of Trustees. “We had the right eyes on costs on everything you can possibly plan for. We did a good job, I think.”

OnePULSE Foundation says the pandemic, the cost of the project, and not enough charitable funding brought them to cancel the Pulse Museum Project and ultimately dissolve the foundation.

Read: Questions over finances remain as onePULSE Foundation moves to dissolve organization

Since Pulse survivors and victims’ families are calling for OnePULSE to be audited, they want to know where all the money went. Orange County commissioners, who gave the organization more than $6 million in Tourists Development Tax funds, had the same question Tuesday.

“Not only (do) we want to know, the public wants to know,” said Commissioner Mayra Uribe. “The families want to know. For us, financially, do they even have enough money to pay us back.”

“The financial and fiscal accountability was there, the value engineering. We weren’t wasting money,” Kalogrisdis said.

There are also questions about if there’s any money left. Since 2016, onePulse has received more than $18 million in donations, grants, and tourist development, tax funding.

Read: onePULSE Foundation moves to dissolve organization

“We will see that after all our audits are done and everything has been in a process right now,” said Yolanda Londono, OnePULSE Foundation Board spokesperson. “You will be receiving information as soon as it’s available.”

Channel 9 also asked what would happen with the millions donated by individuals, families and private companies to the museum project that never happened.

County staff are discussing whether Orange County will be on the hook for paying $400,000 OnePULSE from a state grant.

According to county staff, if the county obtains that property and a museum or “cultural facility” is not built by 2029, the county will have to pay that grant back to the state.

Read: Orlando mayor shares thoughts on city’s proposal to buy Pulse nightclub property

County staff have asked for more documentation on its finances from the OnePULSE foundation. The county says it is still waiting to receive some records from the foundation before the county takes over property on Kaley Street.

The county says staff must also inspect the property leased out for the past year or more by a private company.

The county says it could be a 3-month process before it can work up a termination agreement with OnePULSE.

Click here to download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.