The theater had been closed for much of 2020 due to a lack of new releases from the film industry.
At a Jan. 21 City of Okeechobee Planning Board meeting, the public got their first look at what is next for the property.
According to plans presented to the board a project is underway to convert the location into an automated/self-service car wash called Brahman Car Wash. The car wash would operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and could have up to 3-5 employees on-site assisting with proper operation of equipment, issuing refunds and bug removal from the front of cars.
A new car wash structure would be built on the southern portion of the property, near Domino’s, with a vehicle stacking area and vacuum stations. No plans were presented for the existing theater structure located on the north section of the property near Lightsey’s. City staff noted in their review of the plans that there would be adequate parking remaining at the location if a retail use was proposed for the existing structure at a future time.
The entrance and exit for the car wash would be on SW 2nd Ave, and not Parrot Ave. City staff recommended approval of the special usage exception request in regards to the Brahmans Car Wash, observing that since the theater use has been discontinued, a business that will provide jobs and contribute to the local economy will have a positive impact on the public interest.
Additionally, staff added, it is possible that allowing the applicant to successfully develop a car wash on the south side of the property could promote a re-purposing of the theater structure or redevelopment of that portion of the parcel.
The closing of the Brahman Theater III in 2020 left the county without a movie theater for the first time in years.
The first movie theater in the area, the Park Theater, opened in Okeechobee in 1915 in the building where Elliot’s Pawn Shop and Coldwell Banker Berger Real Estate are currently located. In 1931 Gilbert Culbreth Sr. purchased it, then in 1934 built a new theater across the street near where Capitol Pawn is currently located.
At that theater Culbreth would have annual Christmas parties for children in the community. Kids would get a free movie and a bag of treats every year. That wooden theater was eventually torn down in 1970.
The Brahman Theater first opened by Richard Hales around 1973 with only one screen. Two additional screens were added later. The Godfather was one of the first movies shown and one of the final movies that played at the Brahman was Tenet.