By Dallas Morning News Editorial
Drive down Royal Lane near Harry Hines Boulevard and you’ll miss the rundown two-story bazaar sandwiched between a 7-Eleven and a string of Korean restaurants and Asian bakeries.
But this sunbleached address will soon become a destination for North Texas shoppers thanks to a partnership between City Hall and Korean supermarket chain H Mart. The Dallas City Council recently approved a $4 million economic incentive package to get an H Mart in Koreatown, a bustling retail corridor along Royal Lane in northwest Dallas that used to be a depressed industrial area.
This district is by no means a food desert. After all, Koreatown became an economic engine thanks to its eateries and stores, one of which is Komart, a modest supermarket on the west side of Interstate 35 E.
While Dallas should focus its economic incentive dollars toward development in the city’s historically overlooked southern half, the partnership with the iconic H Mart is a wise investment. Its arrival in Dallas will only elevate the profile of Koreatown, which, according to council member Omar Narvaez, generates as much tax revenue for the city as the ritzy NorthPark Center shopping mall.
H Mart is a huge brand with national name recognition, and it has proved to be a major attraction in other places where it has put down roots. In Plano, H Mart is one of three major Asian grocery stores along a 3-mile stretch of North Central Expressway. And in Carrollton, H Mart anchors a corner of Old Denton Road and the President George Bush Turnpike. Rival chain 99 Ranch Market commands the other side of the intersection, which has become that city’s Koreatown district.
Carrollton’s H Mart opened in 2008, during the Great Recession. It revived a retail plaza that had been left to wither after the bankruptcy of the Mervyn’s department store that anchored it. The city invested $700,000 to freshen up the plaza, and in return, Korean immigrant investors poured in a lot more money than was expected, Carrollton city officials told our newspaper at the time.
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OPINION: Future H Mart marks a milestone for Koreatown and a win for Dallas