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An opening date for Linens 'n Things at the Rogue Valley Mall remains unknown

Renovating a former movie theater complex to make way for a retail store has proven to be a rather dirty business.

Dirty, as in 40,000 cubic yards of fill dirt trucked in, packed down, tested and packed down some more.

Despite the heavy-lifting, the opening date of the Linens 'n Things home decorating store at Rogue Valley Mall remains in flux.

Although the exterior shell is now complete, the interior design is still being examined by the city of Medford Building Department. Mall marketing manager Jill Ditty says a late April or early May opening is the best guess.

The space where moviegoers once viewed Driving Miss Daisy, Quigley Down Under and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves is now buried deeper than a casket.

Remember you had to go up a set of stairs from the back door to get to ground level and the parking lot? says John Moran, project director for Kellogg & Kimsey, a Sarasota, Fla., construction company that completed the &

36;1.1 million demolition and shell phase on the eastern face of the 17-year-old mall.

Moran made monthly trips to the Rogue Valley to oversee the project, spending Christmas and New Year's marveling at Southern Oregon's snow-topped hills. He's due to start a project for Barnes & Noble in Las Cruces, N.M., in the next few days.

The project of turning an underground movie house into a 27,000-square-foot retail space began five months ago. Local sub-contractors splashed on the last bit of paint and laid the asphalt in front of the building this week.

The dumptruck loads of fill dirt were compacted into 8-inch layers with 6 inches of concrete poured over the top.

Once Medford's Building Department signs off on the &

36;309,754 project, the next stage will be relatively easy.

Linens 'n Things has six other Oregon locations ' two in Beaverton, two in Portland and sites in Bend and Salem. The most recent opening was Sept. 13, when it occupied a 28,500-square-foot space in Salem's Lancaster Mall.

Linens 'n Things representatives did not respond to several phone messages.

As of Jan. 4, the company operated 391 stores in 45 states and four Canadian provinces. Since its founding in 1975, Linens 'n Things Inc. has grown from a small chain of traditional home specialty stores to a network of home fashion superstores with more than 14,000 employees. The company sells home textiles, housewares and decorative home accessories.

Workers are putting the finishing touches on a renovation project on the east side of the Rogue Valley Mall that will convert a former movie theater complex into a retail store. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli