Neighborhood around Pulse Nightclub healing, growing

Beth Coffey has been a longtime resident of Orlando's SODO district (South Of Downtown Orlando), long before 49 innocent victims were killed at the Pulse Nightclub.

"It was a pretty quiet neighborhood. Not a lot happening. There weren’t a bunch of restaurants or any of the cool things we have now," she explained.

She remembers Pulse fondly and said she used to go occasionally with her friends. Easy to do, because she lives right behind it.

"Even in my house at night, I could literally hear the club pulsing," she said.  "It was great. It was part of the reason I chose to buy here."

Then came June 12, 2016.

"It was terrifying. No other words."

Her happy home was rocked by terror.

"I woke up to the dog barking, and what I really hoped was some sort of car backfiring," she said. "I don’t know much about guns. In retrospect, it was just me hoping and wishing that it wasn’t what I was hearing."

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After the five years of slow healing, Coffey is feeling hopeful for her cozy neighborhood.

"I’ve never been so proud of the Orlando community as a whole, not just SODO, as I was in the days following pulse, and even now, to see everyone come together every year and celebrate the fact that we’ll never let hate win."

"I feel their struggle. I feel their pain. I think it just brings us together," Sebastian Sierra, the owner, No. 1 Celebrity Barbershop on Orange Ave., right across the street from Pulse.

He’s one of many surrounding business owners who refused to let the tragedy tear apart SODO.

"There’s definitely unity. Although it might be a small community, the Orlando community comes together as one. They feel the pain of others because while it might not affect us directly, indirectly we know someone who knows someone who was there that night."

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Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse and now CEO of the onePULSE Foundation is enormously grateful for that support.

"They surrounded us with love, they were supportive, a lot of them were compassionate, especially the small business owners who thought, ‘What if it happened to us?’ Because it was such a good community before, it really translated well into this transition of adding this memorial to their community."

"I see it every day! We see hundreds of people going every day. The area in the last few years has grown immensely, and I can see the future is only going to get bigger," Sierra added.

"The community is stronger -- construction everywhere, homes being razed, townhouses going in, new restaurants, and coffee shops that weren’t here previously," Coffey explains.

Welcomed additions to the existing Target Plaza, the Orlando Health medical campus, and even the renovated 1926 train station that both Amtrak and SunRail use.

"You know it’s funny. Initially, I thought I would move."

Coffey did not move from her home overlooking Pulse and instead joined the SODO district board.

"Ensuring that our future is brighter than what it was before June 12th."

Watch FOX 35 News for more coverage of the 5-year anniversary of the Pulse shooting.