ORLANDO, Fla. - At least two people who own businesses near the shuttered Pulse nightclub said they will not sell their property for a proposed permanent memorial, museum and parking lot.
"Imagine if merely 1 percent of those visitors in the Orlando region came to Pulse," club owner Barbara Poma said Friday during a Tourist Development Council meeting. "That would mean 720,000 visitors a year -- an average of 1,900 a day."
The organization said it seeks to purchase nine neighboring properties for the project, but not everyone is on board.
The owner of Pro Tint Orlando, a window tinting and detailing business, said no one has approached him about buying his property, and he has no intention of selling it.
Representatives for a same-day surgery center that also owns an adjacent field said they do not plan to sell their property.
The foundation said it also seeks to purchase Orlando Fire Station 5 for the project.
The city of Orlando said it has engaged in preliminary discussions with the foundation about acquiring the property, but it said the discussions have been exploratory in nature and that it would be premature to make a final decision about a possible sale.
Some business owners told Channel 9 they are still trying to recover from losses in the days after the massacre. And some area residents said they fear the project could turn hallowed ground into a tourist attraction.
The business owners are worried that if they refuse to sell, the city may force them to using eminent domain.
While the onePulse Foundation does not have the authority to use eminent domain to acquire the property, attorney Edgar Lopez said it's not so black and white, given the tourist tax money involved in the project.
"Where the money comes from and what it's being used for is certainly something that must be looked at in order to determine whether it's indeed for a public purpose," said Lopez.
FUTURE OF @pulseorlando: This map shows 9 properties @onePULSEorg wants to buy to build a museum & memorial. But some business owners told me they refuse to sell! Why ... plus what the @citybeautiful is saying about the sale of fire station #5 for the project on @WFTV at 6:15pm. pic.twitter.com/A3CEfgqv5S— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) September 24, 2018
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