Susan Taylor Martin, Times Staff Writer

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. More than 100 Sears and Kmart stores to close, report says


    Struggling retail giant Sears Holdings Corp. will lay off at least 5,457 employees and close more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores, many before Christmas, an online report revealed Thursday.

    Seeking Alpha, a financial news and analysis service, listed a Kmart with 68 employees in Zephyrhills among the stores already in the liquidation process.

    No other stores in the Tampa Bay area appear on the report's "exclusive," but incomplete, list of stores slated for closing. ...

    In this May 14, 2012 file photo, shoppers walk into Sears in Peabody, Mass. The struggling retail giant Sears Holdings Corp. will lay off at least 5,457 employees and close more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores, many before Christmas, an online report said Thursday. [Associated Press]
  2. Wood Fired Pizza in downtown St. Petersburg closes


    ST. PETERSBURG — As downtown St. Petersburg's dining scene continues to expand, the restaurant row along First Avenue S is about to get a new look and new menu offerings.

    Wood Fired Pizza abruptly closed Sunday and the establishments on each side of it — World of Beer and the Avenue hamburger restaurant — are exploring a "lot more collaboration on the block," one of the principals said Thursday....

    Wood Fired Pizza in downtown St. Petersburg has closed. [CHRIS TISCH]
  3. South Pasadena Shopping Center sold for $21.1 million

    Real Estate

    South Pasadena

    Shopping center sold for $21.1M

    The South Pasadena Shopping Center, whose tenants include a Walmart Neighborhood Market, has been sold for $21.1 million.

    Plaza Advisors, which brokered the deal, said there were more than 20 offers for the 165,886-square-foot center at 6800 Gulfport Boulevard.

    It "fits the mold for what many retail investors are looking for in this environment: grocery anchored, value add and good real estate,'' said Jim Michalak, Plaza Advisors managing partner....

  4. Convergent Capital Partners pays $10.5 million for St. Pete office space

    Real Estate

    Convergent Capital Partners confirmed Tuesday that it paid $10.5 million for the former headquarters of bankrupt Universal Health Care in downtown St. Petersburg.

    The seller was the state of Florida, which became the receiver for Universal's assets last year after the Medicare provider collapsed amid allegations of fraud and gross mismanagement.

    Convergent, a private Tampa-based real estate equity firm, bought the bottom two floors of the building at 100 Central Ave. ...

  5. Tampa Bay home sales and prices climbed in September

    Real Estate

    Planning to sell a house? Now might be the time.

    Sales of single-family homes in the Tampa Bay area in September jumped nearly 11 percent over the same period last year. The median sales price rose 3.2 percent to $159,900.

    "I see the month of October being the same, and … I don't see any slowdown," Terry Burkot, a Tampa Realtor, said Tuesday. "It's a sellers' market."

    The news was even better statewide, with sales soaring 13.5 percent and the median sales price reaching $180,000, up 5.9 percent from the previous year....

    Single-family home sales were up nearly 11 percent over the same period last year.
  6. Tampa Bay's downtown high-rises bring complaints on blocked views, traffic

    Real Estate

    The NIMBY syndrome — not in my back yard — typically springs from opposition to prisons, power plants and toxic waste dumps.

    Now it includes luxury condos and apartments.

    In the Tampa Bay area, as in booming city centers all across America, residents are voicing concern, even anger, over planned or anticipated high-end projects that would block their views or increase traffic or both. ...

    The view Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, from an upper floor of a  Parkshore Plaza, 300 Beach Drive NE condo in the direction of where the new 18-story Bliss condo tower will rise.  The shaded lot in the lower center of photo, behind the Birchwood, is where Bliss will be built, cutting off some of the view to the  northeast, blocking  half of 400 Beach Drive Condo building, on left and most of the view of the Vinoy.   CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  7. Letter: St. Petersburg's Signature Place a 'potential danger' in high winds

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Improperly installed stucco on Signature Place, one of Tampa Bay's tallest and newest condo towers, could rip off in high winds and pose a "potential danger and liability.''

    That's the warning in an Oct. 6 letter the Signature Place Condominium Association sent to its members outlining repairs that could cost as much as $657,000 and render the balconies in dozens of units unusable for months....

    Last year, Unit 2403 accounted for at least 30 calls to St. Petersburg Police. That was almost half  the total number of calls to the 244-unit Signature Place. [MELISSA LYTTLE, Times]
  8. As law schools struggle, Tampa Bay campus gets a new name


    TAMPA — Florida's newest law school is getting a mouthful of a new name: Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

    The name change, which affects Cooley's Tampa Bay campus along with four in Michigan, comes at a difficult time for law schools nationwide as enrollments plunge and debt-laden graduates struggle to find jobs.

    Faced with a reported 35 percent drop in enrollment last year, Cooley, a private law school based in Lansing, Mich., is closing its Ann Arbor campus near Detroit and has laid off an undisclosed number of faculty members. Some Michigan news reports have put the figure as high as 50 percent. ...

  9. Signature Place condo owners sue over repairs to correct building problems

    Real Estate

    At 36 stories, Signature Place is St. Petersburg's tallest condominium tower and one of its most striking.

    It's also a building riddled with dozens of construction and design defects, according to a new lawsuit.

    The Signature Place Condominium Association says it is spending "large sums'' of money to repair problems ranging from cracks in exterior walls to improper fire wall installation to excessive noise from air-conditioning and heating systems....

    Signature Place has construction and design flaws, condo owners say.
  10. Auction for Century Oaks estate extended


    CLEARWATER — In the past 99 years the magnificent Century Oaks estate has had seven owners, including a doctor, a church and the man who invented the paint used on Model T Fords.

    It will stay with its current owner, champion powerboat racer Hugh Fuller, at least a while longer.

    Saturday's auction of the 24,000-square-foot mansion with 10 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms and a separate guest house was continued until Nov. 22 "to refine offers,'' Daniel DeCaro, of DeCaro Luxury Auctions, announced....

    The Century Oaks estate, which includes a 24,000-square-foot mansion with 10 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, and a separate guest house, has a minimum “reserve” price of $8.5 million.
  11. Former Tampa Bay Rays owner Vince Naimoli's Avila mansion going to auction

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Yet another figure from the sports world is going the auction route after his Tampa Bay estate failed to sell.

    J. P. King Auction Company said Friday that it will auction the eight-bedroom, seven-bath lakeside home of former Tampa Bay Rays owner Vince Naimoli on Nov. 13.

    Naimoli has been trying to sell the 15,000-square-foot home in the elite Avila community for at least three years, starting at $14 million and dropping to $11 million before pulling the listing in 2011....

    Villalenda de Avila, named after Vince Naimoli’s wife, Lenda, is 15,000 square feet and has eight bedrooms and seven baths. A property appraiser pegs its market value at $3.58 million.
  12. Sales to start for condos near Dalí Museum

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Preconstruction sales are due to start next week for downtown St. Petersburg's newest condo project, the 13-story Salvador, a block from the Dalí Museum.

    The 74-unit project reflects continuing developer interest in the area south of Central Avenue near the museum, two major hospitals and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

    "It's right in the mix of everything,'' David B. Moyer of Smith & Associates, the exclusive listing agent, said Thursday....

    Prices for the 13-story Salvador on Second Avenue S will start at $315,000, with most in the $450,000 to $800,000 range.
  13. A good sign: More Tampa Bay homeowners tapping into equity

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay homeowners are once again tapping into the equity in their homes, a sign of an improving housing market and greater confidence in the economy.

    In the 12 months ended in June, nearly 60 percent more home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, originated in the bay area compared with the previous 12 months, according to the housing data source RealtyTrac.

    Nationwide, HELOCs were up 20.6 percent from a year ago and at the highest level since the 12 months that ended in June 2009, the depths of the Great Recession....

  14. Orlando company acquires high-end office buildings at International Plaza

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Three high-end office buildings that make up the Corporate Center at International Plaza are being acquired by an Orlando-based company as part of a $237 million deal.

    Parkway Properties said it is buying a portfolio of 22 buildings in six Southern states to obtain Corporate Center I, II and III in the hot Westshore market. As part of the same transaction, expected to close this year, the company will sell the other 19 buildings to an undisclosed buyer who has put down $10 million in earnest money....

  15. Tampa Bay office buildings add perks, in part to attract millennials


    Back in the old days, say the early 1980s, most office buildings were pretty bland affairs with few amenities. If there was a place to eat, it probably offered little more than chips and ham sandwiches.

    That was then.

    Now, the Take 5 cafe in Tampa Bay Park, a West Shore office complex, features grilled salmon and chicken marsala. Or you can dine al fresco on the new waterfront deck with chaise longues. ...

    Sleek space at the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Tampa is used for dining or working. The contemporary Corner Cafe replaced a nondescript deli.