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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

Email: susan@tampabay.com

Blog: Hot Spots

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  1. Developers moving in on Florida mobile home parks (w/video)

    Real Estate

    ZEPHYRHILLS

    Not so long ago, Rainbow Court mobile home park was a peaceful, pleasant community of senior citizens.

    Today it is a Mad Max, dystopian landscape of broken and abandoned trailers.

    Windows are shattered, some hammered over with plywood. Doors open to rooms stripped of everything that could be carted away. All is eerily quiet but for the occasional shouts of one man drunkenly accusing another of stealing what little is left....

    Chris Sparks, right, and brother Jason Yancey carry a load to a truck as they empty their mother's mobile home Tuesday at Rainbow Court, Zephyrhills. Their mother, Juanita Rowland, 75, moved into the park about 10 years ago and moved in with a daughter  out of state after the park was recently sold. Sparks lived with his mother for the last five years.
  2. One of Tampa Bay's most expensive homes is back on the market

    Real Estate

    RUSKIN

    Did you miss out on owning one of Tampa Bay's 10 most expensive homes last year?

    Not to worry — a nearly 6-acre estate on private Dickman Island is back on the market after just seven months.

    The five-bedroom, six-bath house with 800 feet of frontage on Tampa Bay is priced at $5.995 million, or $445,000 more than it sold for in August. But this time it comes furnished and is almost fully permitted for what would be one of the bay area's few private helipads....

    A nearly six-acre estate on Ruskin's private Dickman Island is going back on the market after just 6 months. [Photo by Raif Fluker]
  3. Florida law could help rich investors force condo owners from their homes

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — For Doreen Rosselli, Carrollwood's Grande Oasis condominium has provided a lushly landscaped refuge from the cacophony of urban life.

    For Silviya Gregory, a young nurse from Bulgaria, Grande Oasis has meant home in a country where she has no family.

    And for Yuclen and Horace Freeman, both in their 80s, Grande Oasis is where they assumed they would spend the rest of their days....

    Grande Oasis, a 1,000-unit condo community a few blocks east of Dale Mabry Highway in Carrollwood, was built in 1991.
  4. Will hot Tampa Bay market convert St. Petersburg high-rise to condos?

    Real Estate

    Due to the "tremendous resurgence" of downtown St. Petersburg's condo market, the developer of a 358-unit high-rise originally planned for rental apartments is exploring a sale that could convert it to a condo project.

    American Land Ventures has hired a South Florida real estate brokerage to try to arrange the sale of 330 Third, a 17-story high-rise under construction on Third Street S a few blocks from the waterfront. ...

    A booming condo market could mean the 330 Third high rise in downtown St. Petersburg could become condos.
  5. For sale for $3 million: St. Petersburg home where Babe Ruth stayed

    Real Estate

    Exactly 90 years ago this week, Babe Ruth made his first-ever trip to St. Petersburg for spring training as a marching band played Hail to the Chief and half the town turned out to greet the nation's most famous baseball player. Now you too could be part of the Babe's legend — the waterfront estate where the New York Yankee slugger sometimes stayed is on the market.

    Just bring peanuts, Cracker Jack and $2.99 million....

    For story on a St. Pete house in which Babe Ruth sometimes stayed during spring training, photos of his daughter Julia Ruth Stevens, now 98, with one of his framed jerseys at the home currently owned by fitness guru Joel Marion and wife Lisa. 
credit: Lisa Marion
  6. More people calling West Shore business district home sweet home

    Economic Development

    TAMPA

    By the time Lauren Brooks decided to buy rather than rent, housing prices in her Hyde Park neighborhood had gone prohibitively high. So she bought a condo in what many considered a peculiar place to live: the West Shore business district.

    Brooks, though, found the area "really promising. There seemed to be a lot of opportunity for a lot of growth."

    That was back in 2005, when West Shore primarily evoked images of shopping malls and office parks. But Brooks, a city planner, proved prescient about an area whose urban amenities and easy access to almost every place in Tampa Bay are making it one of the region's up-and-coming residential markets....

    In the decade since Lauren Brooks bought a condo in Villa Sonoma on W Spruce Street, the West Shore business district has started to become a popular residential market. Five luxury apartment complexes have opened and five more are planned or under construction.
  7. Suit claims 'unspeakable behavior' by Signature Place condo owner

    Real Estate

    The Case of the Not-Welcome Neighbor has moved into court.

    In a recently filed lawsuit, Dr. Nathan Hameroff alleges that the "unspeakable behavior" of fellow Signature Place condo owner Brian Daly has driven off tenants and affected the quality of life in the downtown St. Petersburg high-rise.

    "Starting in 2010, (Daly) has created a nuisance by his unlawful acts, smells, harassment, profanity, indecent exposure, threats, calls to 911 and noises emanating from his unit," according to the suit, filed in Pinellas County Circuit Court. ...

    Brian Jay Daly, a Signature Place condo owner, has been accused of a range of lewd acts.
  8. Hilton Clearwater Beach sells for $134 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — In one of Tampa Bay's biggest hotel deals, the 416-room Hilton Clearwater Beach has been sold to a Kentucky group for $134 million.

    That's the largest dollar amount ever for a Pinellas County hotel and is exceeded in the bay area only by the $199 million that Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik paid for the Tampa Marriott Waterside in October.

    The steep price for the Hilton reflects its size and its high profile in a county where two resorts are under construction on Clearwater Beach and a new Hyatt hotel is planned for downtown St. Petersburg....

    The Hilton Clearwater Beach has been sold for $134 million. At $322,000 per room, the Hilton’s sale price was one of the highest, if not the highest, ever paid on a per room basis in the bay area.
  9. Tampa Bay single-family home sales kick off 2015 with a bang

    News

    A combination of low mortgage rates and low temperatures in much of the nation helped fire up Tampa Bay's housing market in January.

    In Hillsborough County, buyers closed on 969 single-family homes last month, a 6 percent gain over January 2014. In Pinellas, sales shot up 11.9 percent for the best January showing since the Great Recession.

    For the entire metro area, which includes Pasco and Hernando counties, home sales rose 9.1 percent. ...

    Tampa Bay’s housing market started the new year with a bang as year-over-year sales of single-family homes rose more than 9 percent in January.
  10. Plans for waterfront condos oust Clearwater mobile home park residents

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER

    Well into her senior years, JoAnn Charles lived for a spell in her red Hyundai, then slept under canvas in Pinellas Hope's tent city.

    But about 18 months ago, Charles saw an ad for a place she could afford on her meager Social Security — a tiny, rusted '50s-era trailer in the Bayside Gardens Mobile Home Park.

    "This place is a dump, no sweet way about it,'' she says, but at least she could lock a door behind her, fix her own meals and watch TV....

    Bayside Gardens in Clearwater is becoming a victim of its lovely waterfront setting. The mobile home park is closing, and plans are for up to 300 condos in the $300,000 range. Residents, mostly seniors with little money, must go, some on short notice. “We really are being dumped,” one says.
  11. Tampa Bay's luxury condo market heating up with near record sale prices

    Real Estate

    How hot is Tampa Bay's luxury condo market? Consider this:

    In the past five months, prices for individual condos have hit some of the highest levels in years.

    In October, a couple paid $1.45 million for their 28th-floor apartment in the downtown Tampa's Towers of Channelside — one of four Tampa sales last year of that amount or more.

    In December, a gulf-front condo in the Mandalay Beach Club sold for $3.127 million, the second-highest price in Clearwater Beach in 10 years....

    A $2.8 million Parkshore Plaza sale may have been the most expensive condo purchase in downtown St. Petersburg.
  12. Is Tampa Bay 'Ritz-y' enough for a five-star hotel?

    Real Estate

    In the past eight months, Tampa Bay has emerged as an exciting place to be in the hospitality business.

    Three new hotels opened in Tampa. Two upscale resorts are under construction at Clearwater Beach. A new Hyatt is planned for downtown St. Petersburg.

    Yet none of these is a top-rated luxury hotel.

    Will the bay area ever get a five-diamond or five-star property?

    "I get asked that question so often, it isn't funny,'' said Lou Plasencia, CEO of Tampa's Plasencia Group hospitality sales and consulting firm. "I do think there's enough demand to fill a 125- or 150-room luxury hotel — the challenge is that it becomes very inefficient and very difficult to operate a hotel that small, especially at that price point.''...

    Four Seasons Resort Orlando 
at Walt Disney World, Orlando Room rate: $579* Amenities: adult-only pool, family playground with water slides, rock-climbing
  13. Home sales in Tampa Bay rose 22 percent in final quarter of 2014

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home sales end 2014 on a high note

    Year-over-year sales of single-family homes in the Tampa Bay area shot up 22.4 percent in the final quarter of 2014, the third-highest gain of any Florida metro area. In the three months ended in December, 10,683 homes were sold at a median price of $160,000. Sales of townhomes and condos rose nearly 18 percent, with a median price of $111,300. Statewide, sales were up almost 15 percent as the median price rose to $180,000. ...

  14. Tampa Bay led nation in completed foreclosures in 2014

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay led all major U.S. metro areas in completed foreclosures last year as lenders took back nearly 18,400 homes, houses and condos — 5.3 percent more than in 2013.

    The bay area, which includes Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties, bucked a national trend that saw a decline in completed foreclosures in most parts of the nation, the real estate data tracking service CoreLogic reported Tuesday....

    Wells Fargo totally remodeled this foreclosed home on Nevada Avenue NE in Shore Acres before putting it on the market at $239,000. A bidding war is predicted.
  15. C1 Bank CEO buys waterfront home in St. Petersburg, plans demolition

    Real Estate

    For almost a century, the White House look-alike of a mansion with its magnificent oaks has been a stately presence on the St. Petersburg waterfront.

    But now Seven Oaks is about to be bulldozed, making way for the new contemporary-style home of C1 Bank CEO Trevor Burgess.

    Burgess and his husband, Gary Hess, paid $1.8 million for the 5,300-square-foot home on Jan. 29 and had scheduled demolition to start Monday. The house won a brief reprieve, though, because of rain....

    The property is on North Shore Drive in the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg and overlooks Tampa Bay.