Golden India seeks redevelopment of 105-year-old site within Overton Square

After 20 years at its current location at 2097 Madison Avenue in Overton Square in Midtown, Golden India restaurant hopes to move to a larger space to be constructed in place of the current duplex at 20 N. Cooper St., just to the north of the new Opera Memphis headquarters that is under construction.

The property at 20 N. Cooper St. is zoned strictly for residential use, but Golden India owners Satnam Singh and Manjit Kaur want to convert it to mixed-use with a combination of commercial and residential space.

“We have a 105-year-old house that’s only a façade. The house is in horrible shape. It’s really in almost total need of replacement,” said Jerry M. Johnson of Jerry M. Johnson and Associates, the developer, designer and builder on the project.

“It was built on a conditional slab, which is no longer allowed with code. It’s unfeasible to come in and renovate, and it’s somewhat of a derelict structure in that it’s obsolete and antiquated and doesn’t meet modern living standards.”

Golden India wants to construct a new larger restaurant facility measuring roughly 3,000 square feet, with living facilities above the restaurant. Singh and Kaur feel they have outgrown their current location, but they want to remain inside Overton Square.

Johnson points out that zoning for other properties nearby has skewed more towards commercial use in recent years, with architecture reflecting a mix of eclectic, modern, and traditional styles.

“Overton Square is very eclectic architecturally. It has no specific style. It has many different styles of architecture with many different types of tenants. Each brings their own flavor and flair of design,” said Johnson, who has worked in the local development industry for the past 30-plus years.

“The house at 20 N. Cooper is just purely a plain four-square design. It has no historical, architectural or district significance, and it’s not in a historic district.”

He sees the project as a win-win for the city, county and state because the property taxes go up and the property is put to a higher and better use.

The application for planned development will go before the Memphis and Shelby County Land Use Control Board on July 13, but it could see some opposition from nearby residents.

Gordon Alexander, founder of the Midtown Action Coalition, recently noted that other businesses that operate out of former residential properties nearby do so from the original structures, not newly built buildings, including Cafe Iris, The Second Line and others.

Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.
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