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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. Charlie Crist's beach house sells for just over $1 million

    Real Estate

    ST. PETE BEACH -- U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist has sold his beach house for $1.030 million.

    According to the Multiple Listing Service, the sale closed Friday for $260,000 less than what Crist, Florida's former governor, and his wife, Carole, asked in July when the house first hit the market. Yet, they still made a $123,750 gross profit on a small, 77-year-old house they owned for barely a year and a half. ...

    A St Pete Beach house owned by former Florida governor and current congressman Charlie Crist and his wife Carole has sold. They bought the beach-view house last year when it was still uncertain where new congressional district lines would be drawn.

 
[SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]
  2. Family-owned Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach in sale talks

    Tourism

    ST. PETE BEACH — The Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center might soon have a new owner.

    In a brief interview Thursday, CEO H. Gregg Nicklaus confirmed that talks are underway for sale of the 382-room gulf-front hotel that has been in his family for generations. If the deal goes through, it could be finalized relatively soon, he said, noting that the hotel's staff already has been prepared for a possible change in ownership. ...

    The Sirata Beach Resort & Conference Center in St. Petersburg is in negotiations to be sold. [Company photo]
  3. Going, going: One of Tampa Bay's last prime waterfront properties eyes redevelopment

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Every day, thousands of motorists zip on and off the Howard Frankland Bridge oblivious to what could be 16 of the most valuable acres available for redevelopment in the entire Tampa Bay area.

    After decades of ownership, Tampa's L. M. Hughey Company is selling the Tampa Bay Marina complex, the adjacent Mariner Square and their aging, half-empty office buildings just off 1-275 between Kennedy Boulevard and the upscale Beach Park neighborhood. What the complexes lack in modern amenities, they make up for in sweeping bay views. ...

    Newsart graphic:
  4. Which Tampa Bay neighborhood home values will rise most this year? The answer may surprise you.

    Real Estate

    Most Tampa Bay residents have never heard of Westminster Heights. But the St. Petersburg neighborhood could give a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to investing in real estate this year.

    Lying south of Central Avenue between 49th and 58th Streets S, Westminster Heights tops Zillow's list of the five bay area neighborhoods expected to show the biggest percentage gain in home values in 2017. The others are Oakwood Gardens and Lake Euclid in St. Petersburg and Temple Crest and Fair Oaks in Tampa....

    Zillow projects that Tampa's Temple Crest neighborhood will see among the highest increase in home values this year. This three-bedroom, three- bath home in Temple Crest, much of which lies along the Hillsborough River, is listed at $299,500.
[Photo courtesy of Rick Fifter]
  5. South Florida apartment/condo developers flock to Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    When Frank Guerra of Miami first visited St. Petersburg 25 years ago, he left unimpressed. That wasn't the case when he returned in 2012.

    "It was just a completely different city,'' Guerra said, invoking a place that not only had survived the recession but seemed to be thriving.

    Guerra's company, Coral Gables-based Altis Cardinal, bought a nondescript high-rise apartment building in the Historic Kenwood area four years ago and renovated it into the upscale Skyline Fifth. Altis Cardinal has since acquired several parcels nearby and plans 128 more apartments plus a large climate-controlled storage facility. ...

    Miami-based American Land Ventures plans this 21-story, 201-unit apartment tower in downtown St. Petersburg  across from  AER St. Petersburg, an 18-story, 358-unit tower it completed last year.
[Company handout]
  6. Downtown St. Petersburg enjoys a new park, for now

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — Where a decrepit parking garage and two hulking, long-vacant buildings once stood, downtown St. Petersburg has a lovely — if temporary and off-limits— new park.

    Now that the structures have been demolished and the ground cleared of all but several large trees, workers have sodded and landscaped the entire 400 block of Central Avenue. Black, estate-style fencing will rim the perimeter and keep pedestrians out while allowing the kind of pastoral views rarely seen in city centers....

    Workers sod the former Pheil Hotel 400 block along Central Ave. and 1st Ave. South in St. Petersburg while waiting plans for future development.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  7. Downtown St. Petersburg's Modera Prime apartment complex sells for $77.55 million

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — In yet another sign of downtown St. Petersburg's bustling apartment market, the 309-unit Modera Prime 235 has been sold for $77.55 million to a Salt Lake City real estate firm.

    The sale, which closed Dec. 28, works out to $251,000 per unit, among the higher prices paid in recent years for a Tampa Bay apartment complex.

    Built two years ago at 235 Third Ave. N, the eight-story Modera is within easy walking distance of Beach Drive and the Sundial entertainment plaza. While relatively small, its studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments — some of which have bay views — command the kind of rents once unheard of downtown. The 493-square-foot studios currently run as high as $1,585, Modera's website shows....

    The sale of the 309-unit Modera Prime 235 complex to a Salt Lake City real estate firm is the latest in a rash of bay area big-ticket apartment transactions.
  8. Tampa Bay homes values soared in 2016 but so did rents

    Real Estate

    Happy New Year, Tampa Bay — you're worth more than you used to be.

    In the year just ended, the total value of the bay area's housing stock soared 10.3 percent, nearly twice as much than the nation as a whole, according to a new report from Zillow.

    Dollar-wise, bay-area homes collectively exceed the market value of such giants as Bank of America, Procter & Gamble, Disney and Coca-Cola. If they all sold tomorrow, they'd bring in more money than the annual revenues of every Fortune 500 company except Walmart....

    In the year just ended, the total value of the bay area's housing stock soared 10.3 percent, nearly twice as much than the nation as a whole, according to a new report from Zillow. LUIS SANTANA  |   Times
  9. Condo owners in Tampa's the Slade At Channelside battle to keep it from going all rental

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Built in what could become one of Tampa Bay's most dynamic neighborhoods, the Slade At Channelside condominiums boast an eclectic mix of unit owners.

    There's Brandon McArthur, a baseball scout for the Los Angeles Angels. And Anthony Arzola, a medical devices salesman. And Damon Mathis, a colonel in the U.S. Army.

    They and many others bought in the Slade — paying more than $200,000 for their units — because they liked its sleek look, its wide range of amenities and its location in a prime area poised for massive redevelopment....

    When construction of the Slade began around 2006, many paid more than $200,000 for their condos because of the amenities and Channelside’s promising future. Slade Owner LLC now owns more than 80 percent of the units and is converting them to rentals.
  10. Banker and civic leader A. Bronson Thayer remembered as thoughtful and selfless

    News

    THONOTOSASSA — A Harvard graduate, A. Bronson Thayer was once described by a reporter as "affable and erudite, with the aura of an absent-minded Ivy League professor."

    But the Long Island native was also a canny businessman who built a successful bank from scratch, became one of Tampa Bay's most prominent civic leaders and served as president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Bankers Association. ...

    A. Bronson Thayer died Christmas Eve of prostate cancer at 77.
  11. Florida housing agency chief resigns after audit reveals expensive meals, bonuses

    Blog

    The executive director of Florida Housing Finance Corp. has resigned in the wake of an audit that rapped the agency for hosting expensive meals, including a $52,000 dinner, and awarding nearly $443,000 in employee bonuses while thousands of Floridian were waiting for help to save their homes.

    Stephen Auger, who has headed the state-run agency since 2005, said he was stepping down from his job in a letter to the agency's board chairman the day after the Tampa Bay Times reported on the audit....

    Stephen Auger had been the executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. since 2005.
  12. Florida housing agency chief Stephen Auger resigns after audit raps $52,000 filet mignon dinner

    Real Estate

    TALLAHASSEE — Under pressure from Gov. Rick Scott, the head of the Florida Housing Finance Corp. has resigned in the wake of an audit that rapped the agency for hosting expensive meals, including a $52,000 dinner, and awarding nearly $443,000 in employee bonuses while thousands of Floridians were waiting for help to save their homes.

    Stephen Auger, executive director of the state-run agency since 2005, said he was stepping down from his job in a letter dated Thursday, after the Tampa Bay Times reported on the highly critical audit. ...

    Stephen Auger
  13. Michigan man offers a cautionary tale about renting Tampa Bay properties on Craigslist

    Real Estate

    Like many residents of colder climes, Terry Montgomery and his wife, Beverly, looked forward to spending time in Florida this winter.

    So Montgomery went on the computer at his Traverse City, Mich., home recently and began searching for rentals in St. Petersburg, where his daughter, son-in-law and 3- year-old grandson live.

    "I tried Craigslist and I pulled up this house, four bedrooms, two bath, right on the water with a screened-in pool, all-kid protected,'' Montgomery said. "It was just perfect for us — that way the kids could bring the boat over and dock it and we could have our grandson with us the whole time.''...

  14. Home sales surge again in Tampa Bay as prices continue to climb

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home sales showed huge year over year gains in November while prices in Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties also jumped dramatically.

    The November figures are a sign that Tampa Bay's housing market remains strong even as rising interest rates threaten to put a chill on sales nationwide.

    "This has been so busy, this has been our record year in business,'' Sarah Howe, an agent with Coastal Properties Group International in Pinellas, said Wednesday....

    This home on Brightwaters Boulevard in St. Petersburg's Snell Isle sold for $2.8 million in November, the most paid for any Pinellas County home that month. Photo by James Ostrand Photography.
  15. Lavish spending at Florida agency includes $52k filet mignon dinner

    Blog

    To show appreciation for lenders who work with low-income borrowers, Florida's housing agency hosted a $52,000 dinner that featured filet mignon, broiled lobster tails and a bar stocked with "deluxe brand liquors.''

    At a reception for its own board members, the agency spent $300 for a bartender, $425 for a pork carving station and $420 for a "Spanish charcuterie station.''...

    Stephen Auger, executive director of the Florida Housing Finance Corp., defended agency spending on employee bonuses and "recognition programs'' for lenders.