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Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent

Susan Taylor Martin

For someone who doesn't particularly care to fly, Tampa Bay Times senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin has logged a lot of hours in the air — in the past decade she has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and China. She covered the invasion of Iraq, the war in Kosovo and the war against terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan. On 9/11, she and two other Times staffers got in Martin's aging car and drove 24 hours nonstop from Tampa Bay to New York City, her hometown. Among the other breaking stories Susan has covered were the death and funeral of Princess Diana, the funeral of Jordan's King Hussein and the handover of Hong Kong to China. There have been lighter moments, too. Martin has written about a restaurant in Jerusalem dedicated to Elvis Presley's memory; a Scottish hamlet that finally got TV and hated it; and the gay and transvestite scene in Turkey, a conservative Muslim country. Her hobbies include figure skating, antiquing, flea-marketing, and rooting for the Blue Devils basketball team of Duke University (her alma mater).

Martin has won numerous state and national journalism awards, including the 2007 Paul Hansell Award presented by the Florida Society of News Editors for distinguished writing and reporting.

Phone: (727) 893-8642


Blog: Hot Spots

  1. Even with help, Tampa Bay's elderly with reverse mortgages can struggle

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Juanita Kemmlein pulls back a heavy gray tarp and reveals the ruin that once was her bedroom.

    Black mold speckles the walls. The ceiling is rotting away, the wooden joists splintered and jagged as though chewed by a giant rat. As she steps into the barren room, the floor suddenly buckles beneath her slippered feet.

    She begins to cry.

    "I need some help,'' she says....

    Fadie Clarkson (right), 78, gets a hug from her daughter Tina Clarkson, 43, her youngest of ten children, in the living room of their home at 2243 19th Street South in St. Petersburg Monday morning (10/5/15). Fadie Clarkson has a reverse mortgage. She acknowledges she didn’t understand the reverse mortgage process, but believes reverse mortgages are good for senior citizens in her situation.
  2. Tampa Bay still haunted by zombies

    Real Estate

    Beware: Tampa Bay still has plenty of zombies.

    Just in time for Halloween, RealtyTrac reports that the bay area ranks fourth among major metro areas in the number of "zombie houses" — vacant homes in some stage of foreclosure.

    Among the 984 local zombies is one in Safety Harbor that has been haunting Marilyn Bevan for years.

    "It's getting uglier all the time," she said Thursday, ...

    This zombie house at 32 Summit Lane in Safety Harbor is full of overgrown plants, has a gate falling off and a “soupy” pool. “It’s getting uglier all the time,” neighbor Marilyn Bevan says. In Tampa Bay and the nation, the zombie home crisis is easing.
  3. Florida's Hardest Hit Fund program blistered in report

    Real Estate

    In a blistering report released today, federal investigators say Florida has consistently "under-performed'' other states in using federal mortgage assistance money to help desperate homeowners facing foreclosure.

    Of the 18 states participating in the Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Fund, Florida has the lowest rate of approving homeowners for assistance, one of the highest rates of denying assistance and an overall "slowness'' in processing thousands of applications. ...

    Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the report confirms his concerns about the program.
  4. Auction for former Busch compound in St. Pete Beach postponed

    Real Estate

    ST. PETE BEACH — It was a perfect evening to auction off a waterfront resort — balmy breeze, golden sunset, gentle ripples on Boca Ciega Bay.

    But the former winter home of beer and baseball magnate August A. Busch Jr. didn't sell, at least not on Monday.

    "The decision has been made to postpone this auction," auctioneer Jim Owen announced at 6:40 p.m. "But it is available; it is for sale."...

    The Birds of Paradise Boutique Resort at 2707 Pass-a-Grille Way was set to have an opening bid of $3.9 million Monday.
  5. Bucs' Vincent Jackson: wide receiver, businessman


    To football fans, Vincent Jackson is best known as a star wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who in 2013 and 2014 was named the Bucs' Man of the Year for his leadership on and off the field. His many community activities include support for military families, reading programs and pediatric cancer research.

    But Jackson is also a savvy businessman who invests in real estate, owns a growing chain of Orange Theory fitness centers and has a stake in several restaurants, including Cask in South Tampa. ...

    Vincent Jackson is CEO of fast-growing CTV Capital.
  6. As Tampa Bay housing market recovers, not all homes are increasing in value

    Real Estate

    Even for Tampa Bay homeowners who plan to stay put, steadily climbing home prices are a reason to cheer. After all, rising water floats all boats, right?

    Not exactly.

    Despite the continuing recovery of the housing market, 18 percent of all Tampa Bay homes lost value between August 2014 and August 2015, according to the real estate data collector Zillow. In some areas, including Dade City and eastern Hillsborough County, more than 30 percent of homes were worth less this summer than they were a year ago. ...

    Some bay area neighborhoods are seeing homes sell for less, though this Ybor City condominium is in a ZIP code where less than 8 percent of homes lost value from August 2014 to August 2015.
  7. Consuegra law firm in Tampa to lay off 154 employees

    Real Estate

    A Tampa law firm once under investigation for allegedly filing false and misleading mortgage documents is laying off 154 employees and closing its title company.

    The law firm of Daniel C. Consuegra notified state officials of the layoffs Wednesday in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, letter.

    Consuegra Title, with 28 employees, will permanently shut down starting Nov. 30, the letter said, but the law firm will remain open. Neither firm returned calls for comment....

  8. Two land sales in Trinity to boost Pasco economic development

    Real Estate

    The Trinity area of west Pasco County — home to thousands of people but not many high-paying jobs — will be getting an economic boost from two new land sales in the Trinity Corporate Center.

    Evolution Properties paid $1.3 million for a 4.2-acre parcel where it will develop a four-story office building and lease it to Nicopure Labs, the maker of Halo e-cigarettes.

    And for $1.9 million, Osypka Properties acquired a nearly 7-acre tract, where it plans to develop up to 80,000 square feet for Oscor Inc., a locally owned medical device company. Oscor makes and markets a variety of products, including cardiac pacing leads and diagnostic catheters....

  9. Trump: Playing the world like a one-man brand


    Aside from occupying the world's most powerful office, modern U.S. presidents have two things in common — they like to travel and they like to play golf.

    On that score, Donald Trump would fit right into the panoply of jet-setting, club-swinging commanders-in-chief.

    Now the leading Republican contender for president, Trump is first and foremost a real estate developer who boasts golf courses and buildings bearing his name on four continents. Air Force One could touch down in nearly 30 cities from Seoul to Rio de Janeiro, and President Trump would never be more than a motorcade away from a Trump hotel, condo tower or golf club....

  10. Little-known affordable housing program building communities in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate


    On a recent Saturday morning, a Home Depot employee was instructing a group of new home-owners on everything they might ever need to know about toilets.

    "Now let's talk about repair,'' Marcie Chester began as the group listened with surprisingly rapt attention. "If your water bill goes sky high, that's the flapper.''

    For many homeowners, a faulty flapper and running toilet might prompt a call to a $50-an-hour plumber. But saving money is paramount for these newbies, who are about to take on 33-year mortgages on incomes as low as $19,800 a year....

    Homeowners in Bayou Pass Village walk between construction sites. Homeowners in the program build their homes with others who signed their loans at the same time. The time spent in construction fosters a sense of community before they even move in. 
  11. Former Busch estate on St. Pete Beach to head to auction

    Real Estate

    Ever thought about opening a B&B? If so, why not go all out and buy an entire waterfront resort with a celebrity-studded past on St. Pete Beach?

    On Oct. 5, the Birds of Paradise Boutique Resort — once the winter home of beer and baseball magnate August A. Busch Jr. — hits the auction block with a starting bid of "only'' $3.9 million. But if bidding tops $5.9 million, the winner will receive a 2015 Mercedes Benz and a 15-karat diamond ring in addition to the sprawling compound in Pass-a-Grille....

    The former August A. Busch estate on St. Pete Beach is being auctioned Oct. 5. Photo courtesy Auction Consulting Experts.
  12. Tampa Bay home sales still booming, but cooling from earlier this year

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay homes sales continued strong in August although sales in both the bay area and statewide are cooling from their torrid pace earlier in the year.

    "Home sales in Florida are beginning to moderate, even as inventory gets tighter," John Tuccillo, chief economist of Florida Realtors, said Monday. "The August gains in sales for both single-family homes as well as condos and townhouses are lower than they were in the late spring and early summer. We expect the current pace of growth to be typical for the year." ...

    This $2.3 million Clearwater home was the priciest sale.
  13. Florida attorneys call out-of-state lawyer idea 'stupid' and 'dangerous'


    TAMPA — Calling it "stupid,'' "dangerous'' and an "error in judgment,'' lawyers from throughout Florida blasted a proposal Friday to let out-of-state attorneys practice in Florida without taking its bar exam.

    At a public forum held by the Florida Bar, only a few spoke in favor of the idea, and one of those said the idea should be killed if a majority of Florida lawyers oppose it.

    In passionate mini-speeches sprinkled with references to Ronald Reagan, Ralph Waldo Emerson and fictional legal hero Atticus Finch, 24 lawyers took to the podium to address the most contentious issue facing the Florida Bar in years....

    The plan to let out-of-state lawyers practice in Florida is bad for Floridians, lawyer Ted Starr said at the forum in Tampa on Friday. 
  14. Hardest Hit Fund has spent millions in Tampa Bay on people who lose homes anyway

    Real Estate

    Peter Antoniou of Tampa seemed an unlikely candidate to get back on his feet after the housing bust.

    In 2009, a bank foreclosed on Antoniou's luxury condo on Bayshore Boulevard. Yet two years ago, he was approved for up to $42,000 in federal funds to help pay the mortgage on another property he was struggling to keep.

    Now, he is about to lose that, too.

    Anoniou is among scores of Tampa Bay borrowers who got assistance from the federal Hardest Hit Fund but were unable to resume making mortgage payments on their own after the aid ran out. Since January, banks have served foreclosure notices on him and 84 other bay area residents who also were approved for up to $42,000 in assistance. ...

    The abandoned mobile home in northwest St. Petersburg is littered with trash and broken furniture. 
  15. Downtown St. Pete apartment complex Beacon 430 sells for $84.5M

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — In yet another sign of Tampa Bay's apartment boom, the 326-unit Beacon 430 complex in downtown St. Petersburg has sold for the high-end price of $84.5 million.

    An Alabama-based company, B&M Management, bought the apartments at 430 Third Ave. S from the NRP Group of Cleveland.

    "There was interest in the investor community for that asset, and we felt it was the right time to sell,'' Kurt Kehoe, NRP's vice president of development, said Thursday. "I believe there was no more than 45 days of formal marketing but that's not out of the ordinary for a brand-new product in a very sought-after market.''...

    Beacon 430’s sale price works out to $259,000 per unit. Its highest price unit goes for about $2,500 per month.