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August 17, 2022

'District Social' aims to bring ax-throwing, arcade, live music, new bar to Hartford

HBJ PHOTO | MICHAEL PUFFER Brothers William and James Diamond are seeking a liquor license for an entertainment venue mixing a bar, live music video games and axe throwing in a building at 330 Park Ave. in Hartford. Apple Cinemas currently occupies a portion of the building and will remain.
Contributed A rendering of the exterior of the proposed 'District Social' at 330 New Park Ave., Hartford.

An entertainment facility offering an arcade, ax-throwing, live music and bar could soon join Apple Cinemas in a large building at 330 New Park Ave. in Hartford.

The venture – “District Social Hartford” – is proposed by William and James Diamond, brothers and partners in a broad business enterprise spanning electronics manufacturing, entertainment venues and real estate in 12 states and China. They operate out of offices in Mount Kisco, New York.

The brothers are currently seeking a liquor permit for the Hartford venture. They have already begun construction and expect to open the arcade portion of the new business within two weeks.

A rendering of the exterior of the proposed 'District Social' at 330 New Park Ave., Hartford.

The pair paid $6.9 million for the 17-screen, 75,000-square-foot theater and associated parking on New Park Avenue in 2018.

Bow Tie Cinemas opted not to renew its lease in 2020 and was replaced by an Apple Cinema Xtreme. But Apple only uses 12 of 17 theaters. The Diamond brothers plan to activate the vacant five theater spaces with District Social Hartford.

“This is a family-friendly venue that targets all demographics,” William Diamond said. “I think this is a really good opportunity for Hartford. It should be a good venue to hopefully bring that whole area back to life.”

Diamond said he and his brother plan to invest more than $1 million creating District Social and renovating the building façade.

The new venue would also have dedicated spaces for food trucks, offering dining options to patrons.

The new facility will open in phases. Diamond plans a “soft” opening of a redemption arcade within two weeks. This is a games area in which performance is rewarded with tickets that can be redeemed for prizes.

The bar, live performance venue and enclosed ax-throwing lanes would open next. The larger amenities could open as early as January, although Diamond said timing will depend on factors including permitting and might stretch to the spring.

Diamond plans to replace a section of the south-facing exterior with retractable glass walls that open to a newly built patio.

William and James Diamond also run RDI Inc., an electronics manufacturer based in Mount Kisco, New York with production in China. Diamond Properties formed in 1995 and has since become by far the biggest component of the family business.

Over the years, Diamond has acquired more than 14 million square feet of office, warehouse, retail, residential and land in 12 states, according to Diamond and his website. Self-storage and RV parks are a big focus currently. The company also operates coworking spaces.

William Diamond is also CEO of Diamond Hospitality Group, a division of Diamond properties operating a range of 20 entertainment venues including bowling, go-kart racing, Ninja parks and more. That includes “District Social'' venues in Beacon, Carmel, Mount Kisco and Wappingers Falls in New York, according to the District Social website.

William and James Diamond also own the Danbury Ice Arena and Danbury Hat Tricks, a professional ice hockey team and member of the Federal Prospects Hockey League.

Diamond said his associated companies employ a total of about 800 people. The Hartford venue will add about 15 to 20 more, he said. 

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