- Gary Dinges American-Statesman Staff
A grocery chain known for specializing in Asian delicacies is on its way to Central Texas.
HMart plans to open its first Austin store at 11301 Lakeline Blvd., near Lakeline Mall, according to filings with city and state agencies.
The store will take over adjoining buildings vacated when Bed Bath & Beyond and Sports Authority left the Parkline shopping center, documents show. Other nearby retailers include Kohl’s and Home Depot.
Once combined, the two empty storefronts will create a 68,670-square-foot space for HMart. That’s about the size of an average H-E-B store, although the San Antonio-based grocer has built several Central Texas locations larger than that in recent years.
A spokesman for HMart didn’t respond to a message from the American-Statesman seeking details on the project, but a filing with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation indicates renovations will cost about $4.4 million and should be complete by December.
The remodeling will include the addition of “new walls, ceilings and finishes, structural improvements, and installation of food service equipment,” according to the filing.
HMart currently has four stores in Texas – two in the Dallas area and two in Houston – plus locations in California, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The first HMart opened in Queens, New York in 1982. The “H” in HMart is short for “Han Ah Reum,” Korean for “one arm full of groceries,” the company says on its website.
News that HMart is coming to Austin follows last year’s announcement that 99 Ranch Market, another retailer that targets the Asian community, would be opening a location here. That store is planned for The Crescent, a shopping center undergoing redevelopment at North Lamar and Airport boulevards, and should also open this year.
HMart and 99 Ranch Market, once they make their debuts, will be about 13 miles apart.
As part of The Crescent’s makeover, Kula Revolving Sushi Bar is also set to call the shopping center home this year. A concept that originated in Japan, it features a conveyor belt system that enables customers to select sushi dishes they’d like to try.
With Austin’s growing Asian and Pacific American populations, it’s no surprise a number of retailers are choosing to set up shop here, Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce president Marina Ong Bhargava said.
“The Asian Pacific community is eagerly anticipating the openings of HMart and 99 Ranch Market in Austin,” she said. “Although we are currently served by a number of smaller grocers, many of us who are familiar with HMart can’t wait for the one-stop experience for produce and prepared items that it offers. From the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce’s perspective, HMart is committed to corporate citizenship and is already a member, so we look forward to a strong partnership with them.”
Census figures cited by the chamber show that 110,518 people in the Austin-Round Rock area are Asian or Asian American. The area’s Asian population doubles approximately every 12 years.
In both Travis and Williamson counties, Asian and Asian American families have higher-than-average household incomes, the chamber said.
The most common country of origin for Asians in Central Texas is India, followed by China, Vietnam and then Korea.