After months of negotiations, the onePULSE Foundation announced it has failed to close a deal with the property owners of the land of the former Pulse nightclub where the foundation wants to build a memorial museum to commemorate the lives lost in the shooting almost seven years ago.
In a statement on Tuesday, the foundation said an agreement could not be reached with the mixed ownership, including one the founders of the charity and nightclub, Barbara Poma, who departed from her role in the organization last month.
The other owning members include Rosario Poma and Michael Panaggio.
“onePULSE was asking for a full donation of the Pulse nightclub property from the Pomas and their business partner, Michael Panaggio,” Scott Bowman, a spokesperson for the foundation, said in an email response to the Orlando Sentinel.
Neither Barbra Poma, Rosario Poma nor Panaggio could be reached for comment.
The nonprofit was established in 2016 following the Pulse tragedy — one of the deadliest mass shootings in America that killed 49 people and injured 53 others.
In aftermath of the shooting, the foundation had planned to build a permanent national memorial on the site of the former nightclub, at 1912 S. Orange Ave., to commemorate all those impacted by the massacre.
Bowman said those plans are still in the works.
“As disappointing and shocking as this may be to the community, it’s important for the Foundation to communicate its commitment to complete this project, including finding a new site for the national memorial.”
In 2019, Poma helped conjure up plans to build a glitzy $45 million museum in collaboration with the City of Orlando, but progress on the development stalled amid the pandemic and Poma’s transition away from her role at the foundation.
Last year, Poma dropped her title as executive director of the foundation to focus on raising money.
The foundation has faced criticism for the museum’s location and Poma’s former $150,000 base salary as executive director, with critics saying the museum deal puts her in a position to reap profits.
In an email, Bowman said the 0.35-acre property was intended to be donated. Last year, the foundation purchased a neighboring parcel at 21 W. Esther St. for $1 million.
Bowman said the foundation will make an announcement in the next coming weeks about what it plans to do with the property, in addition to future plans for the museum.
The foundation is not currently working with any real estate agents or brokers to purchase a new location, he said.
“Over the years, as you can imagine, where to build the memorial has been a difficult conversation as some families and survivors have found revisiting the site to be extremely painful,” he said in an email. “For others, the Pulse nightclub site is the ideal location.”