It’s official: H Mart, the national chain of Asian megastores, is coming to Arizona next summer.
Company and Mesa leaders have confirmed what documents obtained by The Arizona Republic in early June had suggested.
“When (The Republic’s) story broke, I tweeted it out on social media,” Mesa Vice Mayor Dennis Kavanaugh said Thursday morning. “People were coming up to me and saying, ‘I go to California to shop at H Mart and come back here.’ They’re comparing it to when Ikea came to Arizona.”
The New Jersey-based company will spend more than $7 million to renovate a former Albertsons building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Dobson Road, and anticipates a summer 2017 opening. The 63,000-square-foot space will stock more than 40,000 grocery items. It will include a pharmacy, a variety of small shops, a Korean bakery and an Asian food court that may house as many as seven restaurants.
“We are pleased to be in the City of Mesa, the first expansion city for the state of Arizona,” H Mart President Brian Kwon said in a written statement.
H Mart, short for “Han Ah Reum” (meaning “one arm full” in Korean), first opened in 1982 as a corner market in Woodside, N.Y. Since then, it has grown into a chain of popular superstores with 52 locations in 11 states that reports annual gross sales of more than $1 billion. Though H Mart’s primary focus has been Korean foods and products, its stores include a large complement of Asian and American groceries, and the Mesa location also will carry Latin products to cater to the local market.
Kavanaugh cited a “harmonic convergence” of factors that brought H Mart to the west Mesa site:
- A desire to expand into Arizona.
- Easy transit access via freeway and light rail.
- Mesa’s development plans.
- The success of other local Asian megastores.
- The changing demographics of the East Valley.
West Mesa has rapidly developed into a hub for the Valley’s Asian-American community, spurred by an influx of residents from California and other parts of the country, as well as the large international student population attending Arizona State University, Mesa Community College and other local schools.
H Mart will join Mekong Plaza, AZ International Marketplace and Lee Lee International Supermarket to further reinforce a spine of large-scale Asian markets and smaller businesses that runs along a 5-mile stretch of Dobson Road.
“It’s been a noticeable and very positive development in the community,” Kavanaugh said. “Larger businesses like H Mart, a lot of smaller entrepreneurs and businesses, and a really unique blend of restaurants and shops.”
Dominic Armato, The Republic | azcentral.com 4:12 p.m. MST June 30, 2016