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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

  1. Distressed home sales in Tampa Bay still high despite improving market

    Real Estate

    Even as Tampa Bay's housing market continues a robust recovery, distressed sales still make up a significant share of all home sales.

    Distressed sales — foreclosures and short sales of homes sold for less than the amount owed — accounted for 17.3 percent of bay area sales in May. That was more than twice the national rate and the third highest rate among the 25 largest metro areas, CoreLogic reported Tuesday....

    Short sales and other indications of distressed housing sales remain high in Tampa Bay despite an improving market. [iStockphoto.com]
  2. Group home for at-risk kids causes stir in pricey waterfront neighborhood

    Real Estate

    For months, neighbors in St. Petersburg's Pinellas Point area wondered what would become of the large, aging waterfront house with its wide-open view of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

    So when the "for sale'' sign disappeared in June, their thoughts ran along two lines: "We were hoping it would be either an investor who would demo it, because it was pretty rundown, or a homeowner with a family,'' says Mary Weber, who lives next door with her husband and two children. "That would be nice for us if another family came in.''...

    Michael Long, 24,  executive director of SailFuture, helps other workers renovate the interior of a home on 68th Avenue South in St. Petersburg. The home will house six male at-risk teens.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Old Belleview Biltmore section to become new inn

    Real Estate

    BELLEAIR — The iconic Belleview Biltmore Hotel is no more, but part of it will live on as the new Belleview Inn. JMC Communities, which bought the property last year for a condo- and carriage-home community, is spending $13 million to move and preserve a 38,000-square-foot, three-story section of the hotel including the lobby, original stained glass, heart pine planks, fireplace and grand staircase. Sporting the original distinctive green and white exterior, the new inn will have a pool, ice cream parlor, history room, social events venue and "grand lawn'' for outdoor events. It will sit at the end of a new boulevard landscaped with palms and flowering bushes. The move and renovation are due to start this fall and take 16-18 months to complete....

    A rendering of the Belleview Inn, a 38,000-square-foot section of the original Belleview Biltmore Hotel built in 1897 by railroad magnate Henry Plant
  4. Home prices rise again around Tampa Bay as supply remains tight

    Real Estate

    Sorry, Tampa Bay home buyers — prices are still shooting up.

    The median price for a single-family house jumped 12.6 percent in July, the ninth straight month of double-digit, year-over-year increases. The steady rise continued to be spurred by a tight supply of available homes, with 4.3 percent fewer houses sold in July than in the same month a year earlier.

    "We still have demand out there that's not being met with the amount of supply," Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president of Coldwell Banker, said Wednesday. "It's a great time to come on to the market as a seller — if I was thinking of selling I'd want to be in this market. It's crazy to see it last this long on the demand side."...

    This home in Tampa's Beach Park area sold for $6.4 million in July to Cigar City Brewing founder Joey Redner and his wife, Jennifer. It was among the most expensive homes that changed hands in July.  
[The Toni Everett Company]
  5. Judge recommends five-year disbarment for Pasco attorney Constantine Kalogianis


    Even before the Great Recession, New Port Richey attorney Constantine Kalogianis was in serious financial trouble.

    In a letter to a bank that was suing him, Kalogianis said he had exhausted his savings and "simply could not go (on) this way any longer.'' His real estate holdings were worth less than the loan amounts. He had stopped paying on two business lines of credit.

    Yet Kalogianis told none of this to a client who agreed to "invest'' nearly $230,000 with him....

    A Pasco judge is recommending a five-year disbarment for Pasco lawyer  Constantine Kalogianis, shown here announcing a failed bid for U.S. Congress in 2002. [Times file photo]
  6. Joy Culverhouse didn't want her children to get a penny of her estate, court motion says


    Even in her 90s, Joy Culverhouse was a woman of "strong will'' who made one thing perfectly clear — she didn't want her children to inherit any of her millions.

    That's the latest claim in the battle over the estate of the widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr.

    In a motion filed this week in Hillsborough County probate court, representatives of the estate are trying to quash attempts by Hugh Culverhouse Jr. and his sister, Gay Culverhouse, to revoke their mother's will and a multi-million dollar trust. The siblings don't have legal standing to challenge the will, the motion says, because Culverhouse disinherited them long ago....

    The battle over the estate of Joy Culverhouse, wife of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse, continues. She died in April. Jim Stem | TIMES
  7. Realtor finds a niche serving the LGBT market in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    As a gay man practicing law in Louisville, Ky., 18 years ago, Greg Burton always felt like a bit of an outsider.

    "Everyone knew but no one talked about it," Burton says. "I really wanted to move to a more open, more progressive community that had a larger gay community as well as an airport that could get me to various places."

    Initially settling on Tampa, where he had friends, Burton bought and restored a house in Hyde Park. A year later, in 1997, Burton crossed the bay to St. Petersburg. While fixing up a house in the Old Northeast, he got his real estate license and embarked on a new career as a Realtor whose specialty is working with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender buyers and sellers....

    Real estate agent Greg Burton, foreground, specializes in LGBT buyers and sellers. He found a 1954 home about a year ago in St. Petersburg for Brian Ryan, left, and Peter Ryan, a married couple.
  8. Condo construction to begin this fall on Belleview Biltmore Hotel site

    Real Estate

    BELLEAIR — With half of the 26 condo units already sold, construction will begin in October on the first of four mid-rises planned for the site of the Belleview Biltmore Hotel.

    JMC Communities announced Thursday that it also will spend $13 million to move and convert part of the original building into a boutique hotel.

    Ranging up to 3,676 square feet, the two- and three-bedroom Belleview Place condos start in the mid $600,000s. That includes the initiation fee for a golf and social membership in the Belleair Golf and Country Club, which has a full-service restaurant and bar, a resort-style pool, a fitness center and a marina....

    The 104 two- and three-bedroom Belleview Place condos in Belleair will start in the mid $600,000s. JMC Communities says half the units in the first building are sold.
  9. How will this 11-story former hotel in down­town St. Peters­burg be destroyed?

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — No matter how fleeting, there are few sights as awesome as the implosion of a big building disappearing in an enormous cloud of dust.

    Sorry, YouTube fans, but that won't be the fate of an 11-story former hotel slated for demolition in downtown St. Petersburg. Yet there will still be a lot more noise and vibration as contractors continue clearing an entire city block to make way for redevelopment. ...

    After years of the block being tied up in legal wrangles, the “cheese grater” building and the adjacent garage in downtown St. Petersburg are free for development. The demolition has begun on the parking garage which is mostly demolished. A wrecking ball will be used to bring down the 11-story former hotel. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  10. Allendale resident protesting city's stance against canopy

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pamella Settlegoode, who lives in St. Petersburg's Allendale area, has posted several signs outside of her home on busy 38th Avenue N protesting the city's order that she remove a canopy shading her cars and camper. City staff says the canopy, which cost several thousand dollars, is out of character with the surrounding area.

    The 90-year-old house has not had a usable garage since 38th Avenue was widened decades ago and access was blocked. Settlegoode notes that there are two similar canopies on Snell Isle, but the city says one was installed before current codes took effect and the other is in conformity with the neighborhood's design....

    Pamella Settlegoode, who lives in St. Petersburg's Allendale area, has posted signs outside her home protesting the city's order that she remove the canopy shading her car and camper. .SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN  |  Times
  11. Charlie Crist's house on St. Pete Beach is on the market for $1.29 million

    Real Estate

    ST. PETE BEACH — The beach house of former Florida governor and current congressional candidate Charlie Crist is on the market for $1.29 million. That's nearly $400,000 more than Crist and his wife, Carole, paid a year ago.

    On a corner lot across Gulf Way from a popular beach, the 1,616-square-foot home built in 1940 has a fireplace, a cedar closet and restored wide-plank cypress floors. There's also a second-floor apartment with a bedroom, a kitchen and a family room that could be rented out or used for guests....

    The St. Pete Beach house owned by former Florida Governor Charlie Crist and his wife, Carole, is for sale for $1.290 million. It is the corner house on the right in this aerial photo. The house includes a guest apartment with bedroom.
  12. Development is making St. Pete and Tampa downtowns more pedestrian friendly, report says

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — All those apartments, condos and houses going up in and around downtown St. Petersburg are giving the city a boast-worthy distinction — it's among the nation's top 10 urban areas for "walkable new construction.''

    And Tampa isn't far behind, according to the national real estate brokerage Redfin.

    While many parts of the Tampa Bay area remain inconducive to a pleasant stroll — think St. Petersburg's Tyrone area and Tampa's West Shore district — downtown resurgences are making both cities more pedestrian friendly. ...

    National real estate brokerage Redfin ranked St. Petersburg third and Tampa 12th on its list of urban areas with “walkable new construction,” due to an increase in downtown housing.   
  13. Proposed pile driving in St. Petersburg's Crescent Lake neighborhood angers residents

    Real Estate


    With its charming old houses and pastoral setting, St. Petersburg's Crescent Lake area has long been one of Tampa Bay's most desirable neighborhoods. Now it's the latest flash point in the strife between homeowners and home builders.

    At issue this time is hydraulic pile driving, and whether the steady bang, bang, bang of pilings being pounded into place for a big new house will damage nearby homes and aggravate a known sinkhole problem. ...

    Crescent Lake resident Peter Betzer fears that pile driving will add to sinkhole activity. He says his home has been damaged.
  14. Second video surfaces showing Pasco lawyer altering official court records, filing states

    Real Estate

    A second video has surfaced that appears to show Pasco County lawyer Constantine Kalogianis altering official court records in a mortgage foreclosure case.

    Deutsch Bank recently filed the video with the clerk of court as evidence in its bid to overturn a judge's ruling in the case in which Kalongianis represented the Land O' Lakes homeowners. The ruling dismissed the case and awarded him $45,530 in attorney fees and costs. ...

    Court filings now contain two videos that claim to show Pasco lawyer Constantine Kalogianis altering official court records. This 2002 photo shows Kalogianis announcing his big for U.S. Congress, a race he lost.
 Photo by Andy Jones
  15. The Tampa home where Beyonce and Jay Z stayed is for sale

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Have you ever fantasized about spending time with Beyoncé and Jay Z? Now you can actually live where the superstar couple themselves spent time.

    The striking mid-century home that the duo rented this spring on Davis Islands just hit the market for $3.695 million.

    Built in 1969, the three-bedroom, 21/2-bath house sits back from Riviera Drive and is surrounded with lush tropical foliage that screens it from everything except the bay waters to the west. The listing doesn't say so, but it's a fine place to hide from paparazzi and overeager fans. ...

    Beyonc? stayed at the Tampa home while preparing for her Formation Tour.