“It is a growing segment of our community, and it’s becoming a much more visible portion of our community,” Miranda said.
Part of that visibility, Miranda said, is due to a growing number of Asian businesses in the city. The shopping center at the corner of Chandler Boulevard and Dobson Road—dubbed Chandler Ranch earlier this year—has ushered in 10 new Asian businesses in the last year alone.
Chandler Ranch is anchored by 99 Ranch Market—an Asian grocery store—that opened in Chandler in May. Since it opened, nine other businesses have announced plans to occupy space at the shopping center, including •Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, Meet Fresh, 85° Bakery & Cafe, Veggie Village, RaphaTea, Uncle Lee’s Kitchen, Ramen Hood, and others.
Miranda said the shopping center is the newest iteration of an Asian business corridor in Chandler. Previous Asian corridors in the city lost their anchors in the last few years and have yet to be revitalized.
“At the Dobson Road and Alma School Road alignments in the northern part of Chandler, [an Asian market] used to anchor a shopping center,” Miranda said. “As Chandler has expanded further south, growth has also moved south. Asian-themed restaurants and retailers have popped up on Chandler Boulevard as a result.”
Miranda said the center plans to add “very unique and destination type of restaurants” in the near future as the shopping center fills out remaining leases.
“It’s really cool to see a center be repurposed to reflect the growing demographic of our community,” he said.
In 2010, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Chandler’s Asian population sat at 19,401. A decade later, the city’s Asian population was at 33,152, according to 2020 census data.
Chandler’s percentage of Asian residents is double that of most surrounding areas, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Tempe’s Asian population falls second in terms of percentage of overall population at 9.7%, according to the data. Gilbert stands at 6.7%, according to the data.
Garry Ong, a commissioner on the Chandler Human Relations Commission and a Chinese immigrant, said he believes the Asian population will continue to grow as long as the city’s schools and jobs continue to be highly ranked and competitive.
“There are a lot of high-tech companies here in Chandler,” Ong said. “That attracts a lot of Asian people. So does the education system. Our [schools] are ranked among the top in the state.”
Miranda said he attributes much of the city’s Asian population to Chandler’s companies—such as Intel, Microchip, Northrop Grumman and NXP Semiconductors.
“Part of our rapid Asian population growth is that companies are scouring the world for talent and bringing that talent to Chandler,” he said. “The private sector is helping to accelerate the diversification of our community, and that’s, in part, why our Asian population is growing.”
Ong said Chandler also offers a “great lifestyle” for its residents and said everything starts with family for many Asian residents.
“Chandler is the fastest-growing city in terms of Asian residents and Asian Americans,” Ong said. “Our population is quite high compared to other cities, and it will get higher. Intel is expanding, and that will bring more people and more engineers in this area. And as you have more Asian people here, services, restaurants and grocery stores also reflect that population.”
Kevin Liu, store manager at 99 Ranch Market at Chandler Ranch, said business has been “crazy” since the store opened May 29.
“This is the first 99 Ranch Market in Arizona, and it’s been well received in the community,” Liu said. “A lot of residents in this area move from all over the world. Before we opened, people were stopping by all the time asking when we were going to open. It was super well received in the community.”
Sam Szeto, owner of Dragon Wok on the Chandler-Gilbert border and an ambassador for the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, said grocery stores or other big-box stores serve as the anchor for a shopping center such as Chandler Ranch—but it is the restaurants that follow that serve as the “second anchor” for a center.
“The major attraction for people is restaurants,” Szeto said. “Restaurants are the second anchor. If you have good restaurants, then people will keep coming back. People consider a place a great community when there are [restaurant options]. Restaurants are what pull people from all over. As long as the food is good, people will keep coming back.”
Szeto said because the Chandler Ranch shopping center is bringing in so many restaurants, along with 99 Ranch Market, he believes it will succeed.
“People need to eat,” Szeto said. “People want to try new restaurants. People want to expand their taste buds. Without the restaurants, you don’t have community in a center.”
Szeto said the East Valley is a growing hub for the Asian population, and he expects it will stay that way as long as restaurants, services and grocery stores catering to the population continue to grow as well.
“The East Valley is a major attraction for everything,” he said. “The East Valley is the heart of Arizona. Phoenix has home, but we have heart. Major businesses are here, and everything else follows.”
Liu said that is why 99 Ranch Market opened in Chandler—the population and the draw of businesses such as Intel and other high-tech employers.
“There are so many Asian communities in the surrounding areas,” Liu said. “That’s why Chandler was picked. That and the good neighborhood, good people, good school districts and good jobs.”