May 18, 2023 - Development

How Carrollton got a Koreatown

A dance group records a video in Carrollton Town Center, part of the city's Koreatown. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Asian restaurants, grocery stores and dessert shops have helped revive a part of Carrollton once in decay.

Why it matters: The businesses along the President George Bush Turnpike and Old Denton Road intersection bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue every year, helping sustain the rest of the city, Carrollton Mayor Steve Babick tells Axios.

The big picture: New developments in Carrollton have brought about $25 million to the city since he joined the City Council in 2014, Babick says.

  • The success in Koreatown has sparked other big projects along Old Denton Road, including luxury condos and a mixed-use project with more Korean and South Asian businesses.
  • "Success breeds success," Babick says.
Good luck finding any parking in this area at night. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Flashback: One side of the intersection used to be anchored by a Mervyn’s department store. The other side had a Hobby Lobby, some South Asian businesses, and a Bally Total Fitness.

  • The bankruptcies of Mervyn's and Bally Total Fitness left the area in decline, with empty parking lots where people played cricket.
  • Asian supermarket chain H Mart opened in the former Mervyn's site in 2008. Rival chain 99 Ranch opened where Hobby Lobby once was, fueling the area's transformation.

State of play: Dozens of businesses have since opened along all four corners of the intersection, bringing in thousands of people a week.

  • Koreatown is so busy on most nights, it's hard to find parking.
  • The area also features other Asian businesses, including Daiso from Japan and 85°C Bakery Cafe from Taiwan.
  • BBQ Tonite, serving Indian and Pakistani cuisine, has been around for decades.

Meanwhile: The businesses don't just serve Carrollton's Asian population — they're an opportunity to educate others about the many facets of Asian culture.

  • "The more we spend time with one another, the more we can appreciate that we're so much more alike than different. Our parents want the same things for our kids, regardless of what color or background or ethnicity they are," the mayor says.
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