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Roof rises to great heights above Crystal River Mall

Workers at the Crystal River Mall site have begun installing a 65-foot-tall translucent roof, construction officials said. In the next two months, the 50,000-square-foot fabric roof will rise to four peaks over the octagonal center court of the mall, said Dave Demo, the engineer for the roof project. Retail stores will surround the palm-decorated open court, which will feature eight food shops.

Demo works for Birdair Inc., which designed the roof and will install it. The Buffalo, N.Y., company has done similar projects around the country and overseas, including the roof of the Florida Suncoast Dome in St. Petersburg.

Crystal River Mall, going up on a 40-acre tract along U.S. 19, is being built by Edward J. DeBartolo Corp., an Ohio-based mall developer.

In spite of a tight one-year construction schedule, DeBartolo officials are confident that the target opening date of Oct. 15 will be met.

"We haven't missed an opening yet," said Floyd Zdrojkowski, vice president of engineering, purchasing and construction. "When Mr. DeBartolo says we're going to have a mall there, it will be there."

Zdrojkowski visited the area recently to check progress on Crystal River Mall and the construction of a JCPenney store at Gulf View Square Mall in New Port Richey.

The roof at Crystal River Mall will arrive in four pieces that will rise from the eight sides of center court to the top of four steel masts, Demo said. It will be hoisted up about halfway through the nine-week installation process.

The roof is being installed about mid-way through the mall's construction.

The woven fiberglass, coated with Teflon to protect it from rain, is the same material used for the roof of the Suncoast Dome. It will be supported by steel cables.

To hold up the roof, the mall is supported by 24 casons, concrete pillars ranging from 42 to 60 inches in diameter and drilled 35 to 51 feet into the ground, said John Zellner, on-site construction manager.