Residential units planned for vacant lot on 2nd Avenue North

A young entrepreneur is returning to Great Falls after college with the intention to begin a career as a real estate developer.

Andreas Geranios, son of Nick Geranios, is getting started with a project on 2nd Avenue North turning a vacant property next to Smoked. American Barbecue into two residential homes.

geranios residential rendering

A conceptual rendering of Andreas Geranios’ proposed residential project on 2nd Avenue North.

“My interest as a potential developer of the downtown was to create an option of new trendy living spaces for individuals,” he wrote in his application narrative, and turn a “row of vacant undevelopable land to newer trendy housing that I hope will spur the start of a downtown migration of desired living, which can be a major catalyst to increasing downtown activity.”

The family has operated Geranios Enterprises Inc. in Great Falls for more than a decade. The family also operates Little Athens in the mall and has plans to open a Greek restaurant in the former Bert and Ernie’s downtown.

Andreas Geranios is under contract to acquire three parcels at 213 and 215 2nd Ave. N. Two of the parcels are currently 25 feet wide and one is 10 feet wide. With the city’s side yard setback requirements of 10 feet, he would be left with just five feet of developable space on the wider parcels and none on the narrower parcel.

He’s planning to aggregate the three lots into two and adjust the boundary line to create two equal 30-foot wide lots. He applied for a variance from the city for a five foot side yard setback on the outside property lines and four feet and three inches for the interior property line between both lots.

The city’s Board of Adjustment considered and approved the variance request during their Jan. 9 meeting.

The variance will allow for a building width of 20 feet and 9 inches for each residential structure with a common garage shared between both properties.

Andreas Geranios is planning to build one single-family residence on each of the newly created lots. He said during the meeting that he intends to live in one of them.

The property is still within the Central Business Periphery C-5 zoning district.

In his application narrative, Andreas Geranios wrote that his ability to complete the project is very likely since he’s already secured an engineer/architect, completed geotechnical testing requirements, and is in the later parts of financing.

Lonnie Hill, the city planner on the project, said a literal interpretation of the city code would cause an unnecessary hardship due to the conditions unique to the property.

The residences will have to meet the other code requirements for the C-5 zoning district.

Brett Doney, head of the Great Falls Development Authority, said they’re excited about the project since it’s a young professional coming home, it’s infill development and housing downtown.

Trevor Cavanagh of Smoked. American Barbecue had some questions about the project on whether it would affect his ability to develop the lot between his restaurant and Geranios’ project if he’s able to acquire the lot and expand his restaurant.

Staff told him the project wouldn’t limit his ability to develop the property.

Cavanagh said, “I think it’s incredibly important people live downtown. I think this is a great project.”

He said one of the reasons he’s not open at night is that there aren’t enough people downtown in the evenings.