Aria opens as construction nears completion
PROSPECT — The view from a new banquet facility off Route 69 captures the hilly terrain across three counties — New Haven, Litchfield Hills and Hartford.
From atop the large hill at Aria Wedding and Banquet Facility by Villa Rosa at 45 Murphy Road, one can pick out from the landscape Waterbury Hospital, Meriden Mountain, or even the lights on the TV or radio towers in Farmington, town officials note.
“This is the highest spot in the area,” owner Joe Geloso Sr. said standing on a terrace outside the facility recently.
The Geloso family has completed about 90 percent of the two-story building, he said. Although construction continues, the venue has opened; it held its first wedding reception April 26. Since then, 15 other weddings and functions have been held, Geloso said.
About 1,000 people attended a Mother’s Day dinner on May 12.
Geloso; his two sons, Joe Jr. and Emilio, and daughter, Sonia — all co-owners — broke ground on the project in April 2012. Geloso, a Hamden resident, operated the Villa Rosa banquet hall at the Pontelandolfo Community Club in Waterbury for about 25 years.
He said the new facility is shaping up very well, but there is still work to be done, including landscaping, and completing a room for smaller parties and one of two bridal suites. He hopes to have the work completed by August, he said.
Aria is staffed by about 10 full-time workers, and between 30 and 40 part-time workers, Geloso said.
The facility will cost about $7 million, he said. The family also paid about $50,000 to relocate Murphy Road, which was part of the approval for the facility, town officials said.
“From what we hear, everybody has good things to say about it,” said Joe Jr. “The building has come out absolutely beautiful.”
Town officials say the banquet facility also has helped increase the town’s grand list.
The 2012 grand list, which is a tabulation of the value of assessed real estate, personal property and motor vehicles, jumped by about $23.1 million to a total of nearly $807 million.
A native of Italy, Geloso, 58, said he had wanted to start this project about 10 years ago, but had let it go. He has owned the approximately 15-acre property for about 15 years.
When he began to remove some trees from the property, he discovered the view.
“Once we started clearing the land, we looked around us and say, ‘Wow,’” Geloso said.
Aria’s first floor measures 31,446 square feet, not including the terraces, town records show. It features a grand ballroom that can hold up to 500 guests, and another room that can hold smaller parties of up to 250. It has an indoor and outdoor terrace cocktail area and a kitchen.
The second floor, which includes two bridal suites and offices, measures 8,014 square feet, according to town records.
The entrance opens to a spacious foyer with marble floors that continue throughout most of the facility. Cream-colored paint lightens the walls. Large chandeliers accent the ceilings, and staircases are set off with ornate wrought-iron railings.
Views from the area aren’t limited to the outside. Bits of the land can be seen from many large windows in the grand ballroom, which has a double staircase where a married couple can greet their guests from above.
“This is a dream that I always had this kind of place,” Geloso said.