ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando City Commission was set to approve a deal Monday to purchase the Pulse nightclub site for $2.25 million with plans to construct a memorial, but the vote was postponed.
Channel 9 found out the original asking price was $4 million.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said more time was needed to plan a future memorial.
“I was going to vote 'No' because I was not going to allow for somebody to capitalize on such a tragedy, and I think a few commissioners felt the same way,” said Orlando Commissioner Tony Ortiz.
Ortiz said he was not comfortable with the city paying about 30 percent more than the $1.7 million appraised value.
He also wants to make sure the owners of the nightclub won’t take advantage of the situation.
“I don’t see no honor in capitalizing on a tragedy like this. What kind of good are we doing to our LGBT community?” he said.
Special Section: Pulse shooting
Commissioner Patty Sheehan said she doesn’t believe it’s about the money.
“I think that it’s just discrimination. I think that people don’t want to build a memorial,” said Sheehan.
She pointed out the city has bought property in the past far above appraised value.
“This is not unusual. So, I don’t know why all of a sudden this situation is different,” she said.
Dyer said he has heard no negative feedback on the price and believes the purchase would help the city heal.
“I do think it would be wise for the city to own the property at this point. Because I don't foresee anything happening on the property for some time -- 12 months or 18 months. So I think it is unfair to force the owner to simply maintain it exactly as it is,” Dyer said.
Ortiz said he believes the owners of Pulse should not profit from a potential sale, and taxpayers should not be paying more than the property is worth.
“I'm not asking for the owner of this facility to donate it, but what I'm asking is to be fair. If the place appraises at $1.7 million/$1.6 million, something, then in order to honor this community, let’s do what's right and transparent,” said Ortiz.
He said the city should raise the money needed to buy the nightclub and Sheehan said she isn’t opposed to that idea.
Plans for the permanent memorial at the site have started, though, and Sheehan said the city is looking to other national memorials to inspiration.
She pointed to places like the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which was built in remembrance of the 168 people killed in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
“I think it’s really going to be beautiful, and I think it’s appropriate to memorialize these 49 lost, 53 injured (and) hundreds traumatized,” Sheehan said. “But more so, (to memorialize) the impact this has had on the LGBTQ community.”
Sheehan also said she would like to see a portion of the memorial function as an educational experience about equality.
Kari Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, told Channel 9 that her group would be very interested in helping Orlando go through the process of establishing a memorial.
Indiana resident Matt Alldredge was moved by what he saw.
"It's very touching to see all of the messages and the flowers and the candles," he said. "You can see the candles and the wax that was burned -- running on the ground -- that's been here for who knows how long, and the dead flowers. It goes very deep."
The vote was delayed until at least Dec. 5.
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