A massive indoor market inspired by an iconic Vietnamese landmark could soon rise in San Jose, California, replacing the former Sears store in Eastridge Center.
The old department store was purchased by development company Intelli, which is modeling its renovations after the century-old indoor market Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City.
“It would be like the indoor markets in Vietnam. Vietnamese people have good memories of these markets from our country,” Intelli head Do Van Tron was quoted as saying.
Built by the French in 1870, the market was initially called Les Halles Centrales before it got its present name in 1912.
According to Tron, they are planning to erect a retail, restaurant and food complex called Hello Ben Thanh Indoor Market at the 2180 Eastridge Loop property they purchased for $24.8 million.
David Taxin, a partner with commercial real estate firm Meacham/Oppenheimer, believes the project will be a success as the location is “in an area that is a major center for the Vietnamese community.”
Over 180,000 Vietnamese residents call San Jose home, making up over 10 percent of the city’s population. The largest Vietnamese shopping center in the area is the Grand Century Mall, a 720,000-square-foot property situated at the entrance of Little Saigon which houses 100 small businesses.
Intelli’s proposed complex, which would contain retail stores, food courts, a banquet hall, an entertainment center, common areas and a children’s play center, is expected to cover a total of 260,100 square feet, filling out both floors of the old Sears building.
It will also provide free entertainment during weekends, as well as concerts that could be broadcast on social media.
Based on current development plans, the owners are planning a similar concept to Eataly, a market and food hall featuring Italian cuisine.
Hello Ben Thanh’s food courts are planned to be massive, with about 50 booths showcasing Vietnamese specialties, including “beef noodle soup, chicken noodle soup, vermicelli noodles, hot pot, vegetarian food, sticky rice, bread, spring rolls, salad roll, and tea from the most famous Vietnamese restaurants in California, out of state, and from Vietnam.”
The development plans also indicated that the planned food courts will also feature traditional foods from China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
Similar to the actual Ben Thanh Market, the complex will sell contemporary and traditional Vietnamese clothing, fresh vegetables and fruits grown from Vietnamese farms, dry goods, confections, traditional arts, porcelain, jewelry, stone statues and other goods. It will also have a space for a luxury car showroom.
The new Vietnamese market will strategically connect directly to the main Eastridge Center complex to attract more customers.