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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


Blog: Hot Spots

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tampa Bay single-family home sales kick off 2015 with a bang


    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.
  4. Plans for waterfront condos oust Clearwater mobile home park residents

    Real Estate


    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....

    JoAnn Charles has rented this modest trailer at Bayside Gardens since 2013, but must be out by Aug. 31. She previously lived in her car, and a tent city.
  5. 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....

    Scaffolding on the 2nd Ave S side of Signature Place Monday.  Glasshouse, a penthouse at Signature Place, recently sold. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  6. 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
  7. 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. ...

  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Tampa Bay condos, townhomes that became rentals reconverting to condos

    Real Estate

    On a sunny afternoon in mid Pinellas County, two moving vans lumber onto a narrow street of Back Bay at Carillon and start disgorging sofas, rugs and enough other stuff to fill a 3,000-square-foot townhouse.

    ''That's gonna go straight through, right back to the family room,'' Carol Ackerman instructs a mover wrestling an armchair through the door.

    Over the next three days Ackerman, who stages homes for sale, will work with Toni Donadio, a Back Bay sales assistant, to transform this vacant house into a tastefully decorated showplace they hope people will be itching to buy. ...

    The Sage in downtown St. Petersburg was completed in 2007 just before the market collapsed. Many units became rentals but are now selling as demand for condos soars downtown.
  11. 174-room Hyatt hotel planned for downtown St. Petersburg

    Economic Development

    In another sign of downtown St. Petersburg's soaring popularity, a 174-room Hyatt hotel will be part of a $200 million retail-condo project a few blocks from the waterfront.

    Construction of the four-star hotel is expected to start next spring and be finished in the fall of 2017, Bobby Julien, CEO of the Kolter Group, said Friday.

    Hyatt, one of the world's leading hotel companies, currently has only two other hotels in the Tampa Bay area, both rated as four star by AAA — the Hyatt Regency on Clearwater Beach and the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Tampa's West Shore area. ...

    The downtown St. Pete Hyatt will be 13 or 14 stories tall.
  12. Tampa Bay's foreclosure rate is still high, but down from last year


    The foreclosure rate in Tampa Bay decreased year-over-year in November but still was higher than the national rate.

    The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area also had a higher percentage of severely delinquent mortgages than either Florida or the United States as a whole, according to the real estate data tracking service CoreLogic.

    In November, 4.86 percent of bay area mortgage loans were in some stage of foreclosure compared to 1.48 percent nationally. The bay area rate has steadily dropped since November 2013, when it stood at just over 8 percent. ...

  13. Famous Tate buys Apsco appliance chain's assets for $3 million


    TAMPA — Famous Tate, a family-owned chain of nine Tampa Bay appliance and bedding stores, has bought the assets of Apsco Appliance Centers out of bankruptcy court.

    Famous Tate will reopen the former Apsco stores in Largo and St. Petersburg under its own name "as soon as possible,'' general manger Claude Ward said Wednesday. The company also acquired an Apsco site in the Countryside area, but probably will use that for some other purpose because of its proximity to a Famous Tate store in Oldsmar. ...

  14. Vinik home up north sells at discount, as couple builds in Sarasota


    Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has one less house.

    According to, Vinik has sold his funky 19,306-square-foot mansion in Massachusetts for $10.3 million. That's $6.4 million below the asking price when it first hit the market a year and a half ago.

    That leaves Vinik with two homes in Tampa and one under construction in Sarasota.

    Vinik, who got his MBA from the Harvard Business School in Cambridge, Mass., steered the Fidelity Magellan Fund to 17 percent annual returns before starting his own Boston-based hedge fund. ...

    Kid’s bedroom at Jeff Vinik’s former Massachusetts home
  15. Canadians put hope in new bill that would let them stay longer in United States



    Along about May 1 each year, Ted and Margo Footitt start dreading going home after their six-month stay in Florida. That's because home is Ontario, where May temperatures can drop into the 20s.

    "We have to be back by mid May and sometimes you can be shoveling snow in May,'' the 78-year-old Ted said. "Not at my age.''

    For Canadians like the Footitts, U.S. immigration law limits to 182 days — six months — the time they can spend warming their bones in Tampa Bay and other parts of the United States. But for the first time in many years, there are signs that could change....

    Snow piles up outside the Footitts’ cottage in Ontario. They must return home in May, but it has been known to snow there even then.