Make us your home page

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. 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.
  2. Elderly woman tells judge how a Pasco lawyer took all her money


    TAMPA — On Friday morning, 73-year-old Jacqueline Drury told a judge how she lost almost everything after investing $227,644 with Pasco County attorney and real estate developer Constantine Kalogianis.

    How she lived without a car and had to rely on relatives to get around. How she couldn't afford to see a dentist and had to give up cable TV. How she used to visit her daughters in New York but can't go any more unless they pay for the trips. ...

    The Florida Bar is seeking a five-year ban for Pasco lawyer Constantine Kalogianis.
  3. The family feud over Joy Culverhouse's estate continues and that's not that unusual


    The body of 96-year-old Joy McCann Culverhouse, widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr., still lies in a Tampa funeral home more than three months after her death as the battle over her estate grows increasing contentious.

    Claiming she was pressured by "charlatans,'' her two children are now trying to revoke her will and set aside a trust she created that could be worth as much as $40 million. The stakes are huge but the scenario is surprisingly common. ...

    The family of Joy Culverhouse, who died April 26, is feuding over what should happen to her body as they dispute her finances in her final years of life. Her son, Hugh Culverhouse Jr., right, wants there to be an autopsy and wants her medical records to be turned over, but her grandson and Joy Culverhouse's lawyers have refused. [Tribune photo]
  4. Demolition to begin soon on 400 Central property in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG – Residents and businesses around the 400 block of Central Avenue can expect a noisy, dusty few months as workers demolish a former hotel, bank and parking garage.

    Demolition is expected to start Thursday as the 2-acre site is cleared to make way for a mixed-use project that could include a hotel and a tower of 40 or more floors. New York-based Red Apple Group, headed by a Greek-American billionaire, is under contract to buy the block, arguably the most valuable parcel still left for development downtown. ...

    Residents and businesses around the 400 block of Central Avenue can expect a noisy, dusty few months as workers demolish a former hotel, bank and parking garage. 
[CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. Sundial shopping center in downtown St. Petersburg is for sale

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sundial, downtown St. Petersburg's entertainment and shopping complex, is for sale.

    Developer Bill Edwards bought the once-troubled property, which was then known as BayWalk, in 2011 for $5.2 million. He heavily remodeled it and lured an impressive array of shops and restaurants.

    Rumors had swirled for some time that the property would be sold. It was listed Wednesday by the Chetek Group of Marcus & Millichap....

    The Sundial center in downtown St. Petersburg is for sale. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  6. The parties continue at Tierra Verde mansion despite drug arrest, county interest

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Large parties are continuing in a Tierra Verde mansion rented through Airbnb, even as the host faces drug trafficking charges and a Pinellas County commissioner is looking at ways to eliminate abuses of the popular home-sharing site.

    Neighbors of the 5,500 square foot waterfront house say groups of as many as 16 people have stayed there all but one weekend since the start of July. That's when Robert Lauby, who has listed the house on Airbnb, was arrested in North Florida after deputies said they found the drug ecstasy and more than $4,000 cash in his Hummer. ...

    This mansion in Tierra Verde has become a party house through people renting it on Airbnb, which has upset some neighbors. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times
  7. Home builder backs out of deal to buy Tampa's A La Carte Pavilion

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — A Texas-based home builder has backed out of its multimillion-dollar deal to buy the A La Carte Pavilion and build an upscale waterfront community on the 15-acre site.

    David Weekley Homes notified Egypt Shriners last month that it would not go through with the purchase of the popular event venue, James Lich, chief rabban, or first vice president, of Egypt Shriners, said Tuesday. ...

    Egypt Shriners built the A La Carte Pavilion in Tampa in the early 1970s mainly as a meeting and event venue for members.
  8. Developer learning hard lessons turning old St. Petersburg school into shops

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Renovating an old building can be just as expensive as building a new one.

    That's what developer Jonathan Daou has discovered while converting St. Petersburg's century-old North Ward school into shops, a restaurant and a yoga studio. He says he has already spent $300,000 more than expected and has put further work on hold while city staffers review plans and permit applications. ...

    Jonathan Daou says he has spent $300,000 more than expected to renovate the old North Ward school in St. Petersburg.
  9. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman puts his Tampa home up for sale for $2 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Three years after he was canned, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman has put his gated Bayshore Boulevard estate on the market for just under $2 million.

    The onetime Kansas State star bought the 5,837-square-foot, three-story home in 2010, a year after he became the Bucs' first-round draft pick and youngest quarterback in the team's history. In addition to six bedrooms and six baths, the house boasts a theater room and a large game room with balcony overlooking an outdoor grilling area, heated pool and spa. ...

    The Bayshore Boulevard home of former Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback Josh Freeman is on the market for just under $2 million. Photo courtesy Michael Blitch.
  10. Tampa Bay home prices continue to skyrocket this summer

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home prices soared nearly 17 percent in June, the biggest year-over-year jump since last summer and the second-highest increase of any Florida metro area.

    At the same time, the number of bay area sales in June showed zero change from a year ago — another sign that prices are being driven up by the extremely tight supply of available homes.

    "It is still apparent we have more buyers than sellers in our market,'' said Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president for Coldwell Banker. "The (bank-owned) and short-sale listings are down to the lowest levels in over 10 years.''...

    This beachfront contemporary home on Gulf Boulevard in Belleair Shore sold in June for $6.15 million, the most paid for any residence that month in the Tampa Bay area. It had been the winter home of Iowa businessman and philanthropist Richard O. Jacobson. Photo by Cary John Photography.
  11. Here's what the Tampa lawyer who now leads the Florida Bar has to say about the legal profession


    As the new president of the Florida Bar, Tampa lawyer William J. Schifino Jr. is starting out on a relatively low-key note. And that's probably fine with everyone.

    At this time last year, the Bar's 103,000 members were embroiled in a bitter controversy over reciprocity — letting out-of-state lawyers practice in Florida without taking the Florida Bar exam. Then-president Ramon Abadin spent much of his year in office dealing with critics who claimed reciprocity was a crazy idea at a time when many Florida lawyers and recent law school graduates were struggling financially. ...

    William J. Schifino Jr., shown at his law office on N Franklin Street in downtown Tampa, is the new president of the Florida Bar. Among the issues he is focused on are leadership diversity and providing more access to affordable legal services.
  12. Former Bucs coach Greg Schiano sells Tampa home for near-record $6.6M

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano has sold his Culbreath Isles home for $6.625 million, the second-biggest residential sale ever in Hillsborough County.

    Schiano and his wife, Christina, built the 10,850-square-foot mansion in 2013, the same year the Bucs fired him and general manager Mark Dominik after a 7-9 season.

    The buyer was a land trust with Tampa attorney Robert S. Walton as trustee. ...

    The sale price of the 10,850-square-foot home is the second-highest in Hillsborough County. The house has six bedrooms, seven bathrooms and two half-baths.
  13. Charlie Crist's beach house on Pass-a-Grille is about to hit the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETE BEACH — It looks like former Florida governor and current congressional candidate Charlie Crist no longer needs a beachhead on St. Pete Beach.

    A Realtor's "Available soon'' sign has sprouted at the 1,480-square- foot cottage Crist and his wife, Carole, bought last year when new congressional district boundaries were still uncertain. But once that issue was settled, the Crists found themselves with two homes in the same district — the modest beach place and a 2,700-square- foot luxury condo in downtown St. Petersburg. ...

    A St Pete Beach house owned by former Florida governor and current Congressional candidate Charlie Crist and his wife Carole is about to hit the market. They bought the beach-view house last year when it was still uncertain where new congressional district lines would be drawn.

 Photo by Susan Taylor Martin.
  14. Billionaire developer split on 2016 race: 'Both of them are my friends'


    John Catsimatidis, whose New York-based Red Apple Group is buying a prime block in downtown St. Petersburg, made his fortune in groceries, oil and real estate. But it's politics that has often kept him in the news.

    The Greek-American bilionaire has contributed to a variety of Democratic and Republican campaigns though he has been described as especially "loyal'' to the Clintons. In 2008, he hosted fundraisers that raised more than $750,000 for the presidential race of Hillary Clinton, who attended his daughter's wedding. He also is close to Bill Clinton, who has flown on Catsimatidis-owned planes....

    Businessman John A. Catsimatidis.
  15. Billionaire developer says 'St. Pete needs a skyline' in revealing soaring tower to replace 'cheese grater' building

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — New York's Red Apple Group is returning to the Florida market in a big way — its plans for a prime block in downtown St. Petersburg include what could be one of the tallest buildings on Florida's west coast.

    "St. Pete needs a skyline,'' John Catsimatidis, the company's billionaire owner, said in a phone interview Thursday.

    Red Apple, which is under contract to buy the block of 400 Central Avenue, released a rendering of a sleek tower that Catsimatidis said would be about the height of ONE St. Petersburg, the 41-story building under construction a few blocks farther east on Central. ...

    John Catsimatidis,  Red Apple Group owner