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A foot in the past,
an eye on the future
 

Duo takes on restoring historic bungalows in Suffolk's College Court

BY PHYLLIS SPEIDELL
THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Suffolk - With enthusiasm as vibrant as their signature Aloha shirts, Mickey Garcia and Trevor Spiers are restoring College Court in downtown Suffolk's historic district.
  The rundown circa 1915 bungalow court on three shaded acres once was one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Suffolk. The bungalow colony, a popular early 1900s concept in California, is unique to Hampton Roads and, possibly, to the East Coast.
  Most of the buildings have stood vacant the past year; pain is peeling and weeds have invaded once-manicured yards. Garcia and Spiers, partners in Virginia Beach-based Garcia Development LLC, estimate that $1 million and eight months of work will return the bungalow complex to its original charm.
  Garcia and Spiers have restored vintage properties in Ghent and Olde Towne, Portsmouth. They saw potential in Suffolk's historic district and bought College Court as well as neighboring circa 1915 two-story house and a three-story, federal-style

 
Above: Mickey Garcia, center, and Trevor Spiers plan to return College Court In Suffolk to its original charm. Painting in the background is Jamie Parra. Right: New roofs are part of the repairs to the historic bungalow complex. Garcia and Spiers estimate that the restoration will cost $1 million.  

1818 building that once housed a hotel and then a school Preservation of Historic Suffolk, the property arm of the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society sold the package to the developers for $225,000.
  Garcia was born and raised in Roopville, Ga., a town that got its first traffic light just a year ago. He built his first house when he was 20 and was hooked on construction. He worked his way through the University of Georgia by supervising the construction of 10 gas stations, building his own Shell station by the time he was 26.
  Garcia moved to Virginia Beach with his wife several years ago and began rehabbing houses and commercial properties. He gradually got into restoring vintage homes in Norfolk, Hampton, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
  About three years ago, Garcia, 32, met Spiers, a Marine, lacrosse player and national surfing champion who graduated from Virginia Wesleyan College. They found more in common that Just their fond-ness of Hawaiian shirts, and together, the two tackled several restorations, including a 6,500-square-foot project in Portsmouth's Olde Towne.

    "We learned many valuable lessons on that six-month journey," said Spiers; 30.
  College Court is the largest project the pair has taken on.
  "I think that Suffolk is the future of Hampton Roads and we look forward to doing a lot of projects downtown," Garcia said.
  Around 1915, John B. Pinner, a successful Suffolk businessman who was intrigued by the California bungalow style, built the College Court cottages low and sprawling with gables, bays, porches and lots of distinctive architectural detail.
  The property is located on Main Street across from several other vintage properties recently restored or under restoration as commercial or office buildings. At the College Court site, the two largest houses and the old school all are potential commercial or residential buildings. The smaller bungalows, 1,500 to 2,000 square feet, will be three-to five-bedroom residences. The residences will sell for up to $150,000 and the commercial sites will be priced in the $200,000 range.
 
The smaller bungalows of college Court will become three- to five-bedroom homes.