SIMPSONVILLE — Just off Interstate 64, small peach and yellow turrets, rising above Kentucky's newest shopping destination, are beacons of hope to fashion lovers across the state.
More than 1,200 workers in hard hats bustle around the 374,300-square-foot property, preparing The Outlet Shoppes of the Bluegrass for its grand opening, scheduled for July 31.
The shopping center is in Simpsonville, about halfway between Frankfort and Louisville. Featuring stores including J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and Tumi, it will be Kentucky's first upscale outlet mall.
There also will be a Gucci outlet.
Gina Slechta, vice president of marketing for developer Horizon Group Properties, announced Thursday that the mall would be one of only seven shopping centers in the United States to have an accessories store from Gucci, the high-end brand that has become a staple in every celebrity's closet.
The haute couture stores are sure to draw crowds, but Slechta emphasized that there was something for everyone.
"We have the largest collection of sporting stores and the largest collection of children's stores in the state," she said. "There's also that preteen stage that's so difficult to shop for, and we have four stores specifically targeted at that preteen group."
With wide, covered walkways, the open-air mall is laid out to make shopping easy and comfortable. The stores lining the paths and the roofs covering large portions of the outdoor areas are meant to protect shoppers from the elements.
"Because of the oval design, you can come here when it's raining, hot or cold outside, and still be comfortable," Slechta said.
In an effort to be family-friendly, the mall will feature nursing stations for moms, a small children's play area, and restrooms with changing tables.
Shoppers are expected from all over Kentucky, southern Indiana and some parts of Ohio. The mall also has been advertised in China and Brazil.
"Shopping is the No. 2 thing people like to do on vacation, so we're really working hard with hotels and tourist sites and universities to provide people who might not have transportation a way of getting here," Slechta said.
The Outlet Shoppes will provide busing for large groups or conventions from hotels in the area, including every hotel in Lexington.
Simpsonville's city administrator, David Eaton, said he's excited about the mall's arrival.
"Simpsonville is a town of only 2,500, so this is going to be huge for us," he said. "It's an $80 million investment in our community and it's also really helped because of all the other businesses that are looking at us as a result."
The mall will employ about 1,500 people during the regular season. Two restaurants, Culver's and Bob Evans, are in the works nearby.
The mall is 100 percent leased and is set to house more than 110 stores. Gucci, Kate Spade, Tumi and possibly Toys R Us won't be open by July 31 but are making efforts to open soon thereafter.
"We typically have anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 people who come to a shopping center on opening day," Slechta said. Extra parking and shuttle services would be provided that day. "I would suggest coming early in the morning."
Despite the construction, it is not difficult to envision the parklike atmosphere the architects had in mind. With courtyards, a fireplace, a fountain and several spots for sweet treats, the center is more than a place for shopping.
"It's comfortable. We're in the middle of Kentucky horse farms, and the train is always going by," Slechta said. "When people come to this shopping center we want them to feel like they're in an old Kentucky home."
Annie Garau: (859) 231-1685. Twitter: @agarau6.