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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. Seeking gangster lore, bidders crowd auction of Santo Trafficante's possessions

    Real Estate


    Originally, it was Dom for the Don. Now a new owner can decide whether to open a 1975 bottle of Dom Perignon that once belonged to the late Tampa mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr.

    The vintage champagne went for $800 at Saturday night's standing-room-only auction of furniture, artwork and other items from Trafficante's South Tampa home. His two daughters sat unnoticed in the back row of Joseph's Auction Gallery as bidders snapped up four of their childhood dolls (for a total of $525); a pair of crystal candelabra lamps ($400 for both) and a globe on a walnut stand ($225)....

    Trafficante’s two daughters watched bidders snap up four of their childhood dolls for a total of $525.
  2. Who bought the 25 most expensive homes in Tampa Bay in 2015?

    Real Estate

    In the classic 1967 movie The Graduate, a family friend offers a recent college grad a one-word career tip: Plastics.

    If the movie were remade today, a two-word tip might be: Health care. It's a lucrative field, judging by those who bought luxury homes in the Tampa Bay area in 2015.

    Of the 25 most expensive properties sold last year, nine went to physicians and executives who make their living in the nation's $3 trillion health care industry. They outnumbered buyers from any other field and reflect the bay area's growing prominence as a health care hub, home to such to such esteemed institutions as Moffitt Cancer Center and All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine. ...

  3. Clearwater Beach Hyatt Regency sells for $120.5 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER BEACH — The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa has sold for $120.5 million in yet another reflection of the area's transformation into an upscale destination.

    A limited liability company that includes Tampa's Convergent Capital Partners sold the 242-room hotel this week to an affiliate of Houston's Westmont Hospitality Group.

    "The Clearwater market is continuing to flourish and it is becoming or has become one of the premier destinations in Florida,'' Nik Sachdev, managing director of Convergent Capital, said Thursday. "We thought it was a good time to exit our investment.'' ...

    The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa opened in December 2009. [Times (2010)]
  4. Popular Tampa party site A La Carte Pavilion to make way for new waterfront homes

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — For more than three decades, A La Carte Pavilion has been the picturesque setting for hundreds of weddings, charity events and other functions.

    Its tenure as one of Tampa Bay's most popular party venues is about to end.

    The owner, Egypt Shriners, is under contract to sell the 13-acre waterfront site to David Weekley Homes, which plans an upscale community that will include a mix of housing types. The price was not disclosed but the proceeds will help support the Shriners Hospitals for Children....

    The A la Carte Pavilion, photographed on Thursday February 4, 2016 on Dana Shores Drive in Tampa, is being sold. 

  5. Forbes: Tampa a top market for investors hunting for good housing deals

    Real Estate

    Tampa is among the nation's top markets for investors hunting for good housing deals.

    That's according to a new study that found a hot investment climate in six other Florida cities, as well.

    Forbes magazine and Local Market Monitor, a North Carolina-based data company, teamed up to produce a list of the 20 "best buy" cities — those where "investors get the best bang for their housing buck and aspiring homeowners have the best prospects of making an economically sound purchase," as Forbes put it. ...

  6. Florida added nearly 29,000 new real estate agents in 2015, the most in nine years

    Real Estate

    Florida might have a short supply of homes for sale, but there's no shortage of people hoping to sell them.

    Last year, 28,507 people passed the Florida real estate exam and became licensed sales associates. That's the most in nine years and a whopping 142 percent jump from the low point in 2010.

    The dramatic increase gives Florida a total of 221,000 real estate agents, right at the time when many are bemoaning the dearth of homes on the market. A tight inventory means fewer homes to sell and fiercer competition for listings. ...

    Ashley Williams, 20, is among the students at the Bob Hogue School of Real Estate.
  7. Tampa Bay's foreclosure rate drops, but remains well above the national average

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay's foreclosure rate continues to drop, although it remains well above the national average.

    In a related vein, the bay area ranks second among major metro areas in the percentage of home sales involving short sales or bank-owned properties.

    In November, 3.1 percent of all Tampa Bay homes with mortgages were in some stage of foreclosure, CoreLogic reported. That was 1.53 percentage points less than in November 2014 but more than double the national rate of 1.17 percent. ...

  8. Where in Tampa Bay is home construction booming the most? Southern Hillsborough County

    Real Estate

    For $399,000, you can buy a house more than 40 years old with less than 1,800 square feet in two of Tampa Bay's most popular neighborhoods, St. Petersburg's Snell Isle and Tampa's Davis Islands.

    For $50,000 less, you can get a brand-new home with more than twice the square footage in south Hillsborough County.

    Developers and builders are betting it's an easy choice for thousands of prospective buyers. No other part of the Tampa Bay area is seeing such an explosion of single-family home construction as the vast area of former groves and farm fields south of the Alafia River in Hillsborough. ...

    Greg Singleton, 53, president of Metro Development Group, stands for a portrait in the new Waterleaf community in Riverview that his company is developing. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
  9. Citigroup looking at major Hillsborough expansion, including maybe at Vinik-Cascade site


    It looks like Citigroup, which already has 5,500 employees in Hillsborough County, is looking for a possible corporate campus of up to 1 million square feet, and that the 40 downtown acres by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment fund is in the running.

    The New York-based banking giant is well into discussions with more than one local developer. The possibilities include creating a larger campus at a new location or keeping Citigroup's existing operation at Sabal Park near Interstate 75 and finding additional space elsewhere. A decision is expected in the next couple of weeks. All the finalists are in Hillsborough County....

  10. Report: More than 1 in 5 Tampa Bay homeowners are still 'seriously underwater'

    Real Estate

    Almost 170,000 Tampa Bay homeowners are still "seriously" underwater on their mortgages even as rising home values are making others "equity rich."

    As of the end of last year, 20.7 percent of bay area borrowers owed far more than their homes were worth, RealtyTrac is reporting today. That was almost twice the national percentage and higher than in several other parts of Florida.

    "Seriously" underwater is defined as owing 25 percent more than the home's estimated market value. ...

  11. At Santo Trafficante auction, a chance to buy a piece of Tampa's mob history

    Real Estate

    Is The Godfather one of your favorite movies? If so, what better way to watch it than while relaxing on the sofa of a real-life mobster?

    An ornate Louis XV style couch is among dozens of items from the home of the late Tampa mob boss Santo Trafficante Jr. that will be auctioned off Feb. 6.

    "It's a mixed bag, to be truthful,'' said Joseph Magnani of Joseph's Auction Gallery in St. Petersburg. "Put it this way: There's some unusual stuff.'' ...

    The home formerly owned by Santo Trafficante in Tampa.
  12. How a St. Petersburg home became entangled in a New York bail jumping case

    Real Estate


    When Wendy Hansen rented a three-bedroom home in St. Petersburg last year, she expected to stay there for years.

    Instead, she soon could be forced to move, the result of a bizarre drama involving a former Major League Baseball coach, his "drop-dead gorgeous'' widow and their son, a felon who jumped bail in New York in December on charges of assault, robbery and attempted murder....

    Wendy Hansen held a yard sale Sunday in front of her rented Pinellas Point home. Her landlord, a N.Y. woman, put the house up as collateral for her son, who has since jumped bail. Hansen could be kicked out of the house.
  13. How four Tampa Bay real estate pros see the market in 2016

    Real Estate

    Coming off a robust year for Tampa Bay homes sales, area Realtors have a mixed forecast for 2016.

    Demand for moderately priced homes — under $250,000 — will remain strong, but the turbulent stock market and uncertainty over who will be the next U.S. president could leave some prospective buyers sitting on the fence.

    The Tampa Bay Times interviewed four prominent local Realtors to get their take on what's in store for the housing market: Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president of Coldwell Banker; Bonnie Strickland of the St. Petersburg-based Strickland Property Group; Andrew Duncan of Tampa's Duncan Duo & Associates; and Martha Thorn of the Belleair Bluffs-based Thorn Collection....

    Martha Thorn
  14. Owners of St. Pete's 'cheese-grater' buildings apply for demolition permit

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Once-warring owners of the 400 block of Central Avenue have applied for a permit to demolish three buildings on the site and free up the land for a mixed-use project .

    Opposition, though, is almost sure to come from preservationists who say the buildings have historic value and could be reused.

    Attorney Donald Mastry, representing the block's owners, filed the initial paperwork for a permit this week. Once the application is complete, the city will give interested parties 30 days notice of the intent to tear down the buildings, which date to the 1920s and once housed the upscale Pheil Theater and hotel. ...

    Old photo and postcard of the original buildings in the 400 block of Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg before they were covered with aluminum grating that made them resemble a giant cheese grater. The current owners have reached an agreement that could lead to demolition of the buildings and redevelopment of the prime site. Courtesy: St. Petersburg Preservation
  15. Tampa Bay homes sales surged in 2015, but what's next?

    Real Estate

    Despite a slowdown toward year's end, Tampa Bay home sales in 2015 continued a strong recovery from the darkest days of the housing crash.

    A total of 46,512 single-family homes sold last year in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Hernando and Pasco counties, a 39 percent increase from 2012.

    Prices also rebounded dramatically, from just $129,000 four years ago to a median of $180,000 last month....

    After surging early in 2015, the growth of home sales in the Tampa Bay area got a little milder toward the end of the year and some Realtors predict they will be flat in 2016. [Times]