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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. New York style brownstones planned for downtown St. Petersburg

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Five high-end, New York-style brownstones are now planned for the downtown St. Petersburg site where a 16-story luxury condo tower once was proposed.

    Frank Menna, who owns the vacant lot on First Street N and Fourth Avenue, said Wednesday that the new project is a joint venture with hotel and restaurant owner Steve Gianfilippo.

    "I had the high-rise thing going there and we had so many problems with this and that,'' Menna said. "I love downtown and hate giving up that property but this is going to be beautiful.''...

  2. Developer of former Trump Tower site bullish on Tampa Bay's "walkable'' downtowns

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other city officials were thrilled last week when Feldman Equities submitted preliminary plans for what would be the tallest building on Florida's west coast — a 52-story mixed-use tower on the riverfront site where Donald Trump in 2005 announced an extravagant condo project that never got off the ground.

    Like Trump, Larry Feldman is a native New Yorker; unlike Trump, Feldman now lives in Tampa and has a proven track record in the bay area. He is co-owner of the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa and three office buildings in downtown St. Petersburg. Raised in a family that started in real estate by building enclosures around plumbing equipment, Feldman successfully marketed projects in Manhattan — including a 40-story midtown office tower — before investing in the Orlando area. But for the past few years his focus has been on Tampa Bay's increasingly vibrant downtowns....

    Larry Feldman, co-owner of the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa, submitted plans last week for the development of a 52-story tower in downtown Tampa. “A mixed-used tower is the epitome of live-work-play.”
  3. As Tampa Bay foreclosures plunge, prices jump

    Real Estate

    When it came time to list a certain foreclosed home in Tampa's Town 'N Country area in April, Realtor Irwin Wilensky figured $79,500 would be about the right price given its dilapidated condition.

    He was wrong. Multiple offers poured in, and the house sold for $117,000 last month — $37,500 more than the asking price.

    "It kind of tells you how crazy the market got,'' Wilensky said. ...

    Despite its condition, this foreclosure in Tampa’s Town ’N Country area sold in June for $37,500 above the asking price.
  4. Tampa Bay homes sales soared in June

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home sales skyrocketed in June, making it the strongest month in the past year.

    Year-over-year sales of single-family homes — which make up the bulk of the residential real estate market — soared 31.7 percent in Pasco County, 29.5 percent in Pinellas and 27.4 percent in Hillsborough.

    Prices in all three counties also rose, though less dramatically, while the median number of days homes sat on the market shrank — evidence that buyers are snapping up realistically priced homes. ...

    Luxury home in Tampa's Beach Park area that sold in June for $4 million, the highest price paid for any residence in the Tampa Bay area in June. (Courtesy Smith & Associates Real Estate)
  5. 52-story tower proposed on former Trump Tower site in downtown Tampa

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Ten years after Donald Trump announced plans for a 52-story tower on the Hillsborough River, a developer has filed preliminary plans for a 52-story tower on the same site.

    Trump Tower Tampa never was built, a victim of overambition, foundation problems and the real estate bust. But now Feldman Equities wants to erect an office/retail/residential tower that would be the tallest building in the Tampa Bay area. ...

    A sign advertises the would-be Trump Tower Tampa.
  6. Firestorm over plan to let out-of-state lawyers practice in Florida without passing exam

    News

    And you thought Florida already had too many lawyers?

    A proposal to let lawyers from other states practice in the Sunshine State without taking the Florida Bar exam has ignited a firestorm in Florida's already crowded legal community.

    "It's a ridiculous proposal," John Fitzgibbons, a Tampa attorney and former federal prosecutor, said Monday. "Every lawyer in a cold-weather climate who has a condo in Florida will join the Florida Bar and make that condo his or her Florida office." ...

    Ram?n Abadin of the Florida Bar says the Bar hasn’t taken an official stance on reciprocity.
  7. Is Tampa Bay's real estate market Florida's best-kept secret?

    Real Estate

    MIAMI — Could Nashville be a major competitor to Tampa Bay? Will America's "historical" rent crisis affect bay area home sales? Will fewer Canadians be buying?

    And does Tampa Bay have an identity crisis?

    Those were among the questions that popped to mind when I and other journalists recently attended the annual conference of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, or NAREE, in Miami. We heard from dozens of real estate experts who offered opinions, forecasts and titillating tidbits about "uber-wealthy" home buyers. ...

    Is Tampa Bay’s real estate market Florida’s best-kept secret? A recent real estate conference in Miami seemed to indicate it might be. Buyers might find St. Petersburg’s Glasshouse, called Tampa Bay’s most unique penthouse condo, fits the bill. Photo Courtesy Smith & Associates Real Estate .
  8. Need a drink? Downtown St. Petersburg's 33701 ZIP code leads Tampa Bay in bars

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — If you're gonna get ripped, here's the ZIP.

    ZIP code 33701 — which includes St. Petersburg's bustling downtown — has the most bars of any ZIP code in the entire Tampa Bay area.

    According to the online real estate service RealtyTrac, there are 24 bars with a 33701 ZIP code, or one for every 590 residents. Throw in the 27 restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages and it's one drinking establishment for every 277 people. ...

    The scene looking east down Central Avenue from Third Street towards Second Street in downtown St. Petersburg during happy hour Wednesday evening. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Baymont Inn and Suites near Busch Gardens sells for hefty profit

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Baymont Inn and Suites — so close to Busch Gardens that all rooms have roller coaster views — has been sold to a Latin American investor.

    The purchase price was $6.95 million, showing a hefty profit for the seller, Mallah Investments of Tampa.

    "We bought it for about $4 million, put a million into it and sold it for almost $7 million," Benjamin Mallah said Tuesday of the 150-room hotel he owned for barely two years....

    Mallah Investments of Tampa bought the Baymont Inn and Suites near Busch Gardens for $3.75 million in 2013 and has sold it for $6.95 million.
  10. Pension agency places liens on Times Publishing properties

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. has placed liens on all property owned by Times Publishing Co. and its parent organization, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, for failing to make required contributions to their pension plan.

    The liens are for $30,476,992 — the difference between the pension plan's current assets and the calculation of all future benefits. The liens were recorded last week in Pinellas County official records....

  11. Lawyer accused in DUI setup puts St. Petersburg home on market for $2.9 million

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Robert Adams, one of three lawyers accused of participating in a drunken driving setup, has put his St. Petersburg home on the market for $2.9 million.

    Adams, who could lose his license to practice law, said Monday that the decision to sell had nothing to do with a bruising battle to clear his name.

    "The sale of my home is absolutely not related to legal fees incurred in the Bar proceedings," Adams said in an email. Instead, he and his wife have found the 7,000-square-foot house on Snell Isle "simply too much for two people with our boys becoming of high school and college age."...

    Lawyer Robert Adams could lose his license to practice law. 
  12. Think Tampa Bay's condo market is booming? You should see Miami's

    Real Estate

    MIAMI — Peter Zalewski talks so fast that listeners wonder when he has time to breathe. But his rat-a-tat speech is appropriate for a man who makes his living tracking a condo market growing at breakneck pace.

    "Here, the $1.8 billion first phase of Miami Worldcenter, 482 units,'' Zalewski says during a sweltering tour of downtown Miami. "Over there, new building, Centro condos, 352 units. Brickell Centre, four condo complexes, 1,400 units.''...

    In downtown Miami alone, seven new condo towers have  opened and another 25 are under construction. “We are on fire,” said Peter Zalewski, who tracks the Miami condo market.
  13. C1 Bank CEO sells waterfront lot after owning it less than six months

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Less than six months after paying $1.8 million for a waterfront St. Petersburg house and demolishing it, the head of C1 Bank and his husband have sold the vacant lot for a $150,000 profit.

    Records show that Long Drive Properties LLC paid Trevor Burgess, the bank's CEO, and Gary Hess $1.95 million for the large corner lot on North Shore Drive near downtown St. Petersburg. ...

    Trevor Burgess 
made $150,000 in profit on the downtown St. Petersburg lot.
  14. Developer: Tampa Tribune site will be mid-rise rental apartments

    Real Estate

    MIAMI — A mid-rise residential project planned for the Tampa Tribune's riverfront headquarters will be rental apartments and not condos, its developer says, and likely will eliminate the paper's printing plant operations on the site.

    "It's all gone," Jorge Perez, founder and CEO of the Related Group, said Thursday when asked what would happen to the Tribune's printing operations there....

  15. Tampa's University Mall to get major facelift, new anchors and restaurants

    Economic Development

    One of Tampa Bay's oldest — and dreariest — malls is getting a major facelift.

    University Mall near the University of South Florida will get three new anchor tenants and two new free-standing restaurants as part of a renovation that could start early next year, the commercial real estate and investment firm CBRE announced Monday.

    The transformation of the 41-year-old mall will include the addition of "lush landscaping, water features and seating areas offering visitors a comfortable place to enjoy the Florida weather,'' a news release said. ...

    University Mall near the University of South Florida will get three new anchor tenants and two new free-standing restaurants as part of a renovation that could start early next year.