More than a year after its groundbreaking, the Blue Willow Village, Social Circle's much anticipated tourist attraction, is nearing completion, with main construction complete and an opening date anticipated for September.
According to Louis Van Dyke, the owner of the Blue Willow Village and the famous Blue Willow Inn, construction is complete and landscaping is underway for the development, which, when it opens, will feature a creationist and natural history museum and at least seven small shops.
The shop space is expected to be turned over to tenants this week Van Dyke said.
"It's progressing really well at this point," Van Dyke said, adding that he was hoping for a little more rain to complete the village's green space.
Though there are nine shop spaces, Van Dyke said he expected only seven would be occupied when the village opens in September.
"Everything is leased except two tenant spaces," Van Dyke said. "I don't know if they will leased before [the opening]. People are a little uneasy with the economy as it is. We're going to open nonetheless."
The 11,000 square foot creationist museum will feature animatronics created by Joseph Hurt Studios, formerly of Stone Mountain. Because of the detail involved in setting up the exhibits, the museum might open several weeks later than the shops, in which case there will be a grand opening as well as a soft opening Van Dyke said.
"He may be a couple of weeks later. We're working with him, hoping it will all be at the same time," Van Dyke said, adding that seven large trailers, featuring the museum's displays have already arrived.
Accompanying the creationist museum will be a museum gift shop next door. Other leased shops include a 1950s old fashioned soda fountain shop, a Christmas shop and a Latte Da Coffee, which has another coffeehouse in Porterdale.
There will also be a Georgia Originals shop, which will sell woodcarvings, drawings, stained glass, jewelry and gourmet food among other things. All of the items for sale are created by Georgian artisans.
Two other gift shops selling an eclectic range of items round out the businesses scheduled to open.
"It's a whole menagerie of different things," Van Dyke said.
There are plans to add two additional buildings to the Blue Willow Village with space for four more shops, which would bring the total number of new businesses to 14.