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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. Tampa Bay waterfront builder pioneer Jack Apple dies

    Real Estate

    Asked for the key to a successful home-building career, Gale J. "Jack'' Apple liked to say: Be honest and never build something you wouldn't live in yourself.

    It was a philosophy that served Apple well as his Apple Homes built thousands of houses — many of them waterfront — throughout the Tampa Bay area including in Apollo Beach, Venetian Isles, Shores Acres, Maximo Moorings, Yacht Club Estates, Vina del Mar Island and Isle of Capri. ...

    Homebuilder Jack Apple, shown in this 2011 photo in his office, died late Thursday. 

  2. March madness for Tampa Bay home sales with double-digit price increases

    Real Estate

    With the peak selling season in full swing, Tampa home sales didn't disappoint in March — prices in all four bay area counties jumped again by double digits compared to the same time a year earlier.

    And once again, Tampa Bay outpaced every other major metro area in Florida and most of the smaller ones as well.

    "We certainly have a great, healthy market right now,'' Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president of Coldwell Banker, said Friday. "I don't see any adverse influences to cause it to slow down." ...

    This home in Land O' Lakes sold for $1.125 million in March, making it Pasco County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Tom Carr/Christopher Williams]
  3. EB-5 program for foreign investors is increasingly popular... and contentious

    Real Estate

    At first blush, the new Wyndham Grand Resort on Clearwater Beach wouldn't seem to have much in common with an office plaza in Haines City.

    Nor would a senior care facility in Tampa tend to be mentioned in the same sentence as a Crunch Fitness center or the University of Miami's life sciences building.

    Yet all of these were funded in part by the same source — foreigners hoping to become legal permanent residents of the United States. ...

     Ming G. Jung, principal and CFO, Gar Lippincott, managing principal, Bradley J. Snyder, principal, and Robert Moreyra, managing principal, all from Atlantic American Opportunities Fund, pose for a portrait at Le Meridien, on N. Florida Avenue in Tampa. The old federal courthouse was converted in to the hotel, Le Meridien, using EB-5 visa program money.
[MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

  4. Fabled Clearwater estate sells for a record $11.18 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Century Oaks, a landmark estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor, has sold for $11.18 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area

    No other residential property has been even close to that price except for a Belleair estate that sold for $10.25 million in 2008. The top price paid for any bay area home last year was $6.9 million for a condo on St. Petersburg's Beach Drive. ...

    Century Oaks, a landmark estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor, has sold for $11.180 million, the most ever paid for a home in the Tampa Bay area. 
[Courtesy of My Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service]
  5. Reservations brisk for Tampa Bay's first tiny apartments

    Real Estate

    Just a day after Tampa Bay's first tiny apartments went up for grabs, about 40 of the 120 already had been reserved. "That's not bad in 24 hours,'' Omar Garcia, manager of Urban Core Holdings, said Tuesday.

    The company, under contract to buy a downtown Tampa office building and convert it into micro apartments, began taking reservations Monday at The $50 reservation fee is refundable but the first people to reserve will have their choice of units if they end up renting. ...

    A Tampa company plans to covert the top eight floors of a downtown office building into "micro-apartments'' of about 300 to 400 square feet, aimed at young downtown workers who are willing to give up their cars for a chance to live without roommates in an affordable apartment. [Rendering courtesy of Urban Core Holdings]
  6. Indiana developer plans apartments in Seminole Heights, St. Petersburg's Edge District

    Real Estate

    An Indiana-based apartment developer is making its first foray into Florida with projects in two of Tampa Bay's trendiest areas.

    In Seminole Heights, Milhaus plans 81 apartments plus space for shops and restaurants on North Florida Avenue at the corner of Idlewild Avenue. The site now houses a car lot — one of many along Florida — but the company sees potential for the busy thoroughfare to become a true "Main Street" for Seminole Heights residents....

    Milhaus, an Indianapolis-based developer of multi-family housing, plans this $20 million apartment project in Tampa's Seminole Heights area.
[Rendering courtesy of Dwell Design Studio]
  7. If you like tiny houses, you'll love these tiny apartments coming to Tampa

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — You've heard of tiny houses. Now Tampa could become one of the first places in Florida to have tiny apartments.

    Urban Core Holdings, LLC is under contract to buy a 12-story downtown office building and convert the top eight floors into micro-apartments. Each would have a kitchen with a two-burner stove top, microwave hood, refrigerator and dishwasher. The apartments would also come with a stackable washer-dryer unit; a bike rack and a Murphy bed that transformed into a dining table during the day....

    A Tampa company plans to covert the top eight floors of a downtown office building into "micro-apartments'' of about 300 to 400 square feet, aimed at young downtown workers who are willing to give up their cars for a chance to live without roommates in an affordable apartment.
[Rendering courtesy of Urban Core Holdings]
  8. Battle over large new homes expands to St. Petersburg's Kenwood neighborhood

    Real Estate


    As St. Petersburg considers major changes to its zoning rules, city staffers find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

    Or, more precisely, a bungalow and a McMansion.

    Residents of Historic Kenwood are the latest group to weigh in on the proposed changes, which they say wouldn't do enough to protect their area, known for its cozy bungalows, from being overrun with huge, boxy structures. ...

    This new home at 2736 Dartmouth Ave N is part of the trend of bigger, newer, un-historic-looking homes being built in St. Petersburg’s Historic Kenwood area.
  9. Long awaited $100 million project would bring JW Marriott luxury hotel to Clearwater Beach

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER BEACH — After four years of planning, one of the world's top luxury hotel brands — JW Marriott — finally could be coming to Clearwater Beach.

    Sales are to begin this week for 36 fully furnished JW Marriott Residences, the first of their kind in the United States. They would occupy four upper floors of what also would be a 166-room JW Marriott hotel, one of only about 75 worldwide. ...

    Developer Uday Lele, president of Enchantment, LLC., stands on the balcony of a sixth-floor room of his DreamView Resort & Hotel, 691 S Gulfview Blvd, on Clearwater Beach, with a view southwest overlooking Clearwater Pass. Lele announced Monday that the DreamView site will become the Tampa Bay area's first JW Marriott hotel, one of the company's top brands, with plans to open by Spring 2019. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  10. Tampa Bay is enjoying a hotel boom. Could a five-star be coming?

    Real Estate

    With the opening of the Opal Sands and Wyndham resorts on Clearwater Beach in the last 14 months, the Tampa Bay area gained 678 new hotel rooms.

    Sound impressive? Wait until you see what's coming.

    Over the next few years, at least 27 new hotels with a total of 4,000 rooms are expected to start welcoming guests in what has become one of the nation's hottest hotel markets. From Busch Gardens to the Gulf beaches, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties haven't seen this much hotel activity since the early '90s. And — finally! — the bay area could even shed its dismal distinction as Florida's only major metro area without a five-star hotel....

    A rendering shows a mixed-use hotel, residential and retail project that HRI Properties of New Orleans proposes to build in Tampa on N Florida Avenue next to City Hall.
[Courtesy of HRI Properties]
  11. From donning rock concert shirts to pizza parties, Bayshore Home Care builds team spirit


    LARGO — Instead of its usual holiday party last December, Bayshore Home Care held an '80s gala to celebrate its founding in 1986. As big-haired employees in jeans and rock-concert shirts streamed into the Hilton Carillon Park, other hotel guests took notice.

    "Since it was right before Christmas, most people were in suits so we got a lot of looks," says Todd Atkinson, who with sister Suzanne Johnson owns the home health care agency. ...

    Bayshore Home Care employee Geraldine Sterlicchi gets client Mary Hochadel settled with lunch. Sterlicchi spends five days a week at Hochadel’s Belleair home.
  12. Tampa broker is big on real estate investment trusts, including his new one

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Want to invest in real estate?

    The hard way is finding and buying the properties yourself, maintaining them, paying the taxes and insurance, then hoping you can make at least a few bucks from renting or selling them.

    Then there are real estate investment trusts, or REITs. Put simply, you invest your money with a company that finds the properties and pays you dividends from the rents it collects. ...

    David Sobelman is founder and CEO of Generation Income Properties, which is acquiring commercial properties similar to this Tampa building that is part of another Sobelman real estate investment trust. Located at  504 South Howard Ave., the building  houses Sherwin Williams and Fitlife Foods.
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  13. Sales center opens for Tampa's newest condo tower, with a sky-high penthouse price

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — On Saturday, a glitzy sales center opens for Tampa's newest condo tower, the 24-story Virage on Bayshore Boulevard.

    It may not be a hard sell. Months before the first shovel of dirt is turned, more than half of the 71 units are reserved including one of its $5 million penthouses. If that sale goes through, it would be the top price paid for a Tampa condo in a decade.

    "We started last summer to meet with potential buyers and there was a lot of excitement about something new," said Dave Traynor of Smith &Associates, which is marketing the Virage....

    Ascent Development Group Vice President Steve Barber, left, along with Smith & Associates Real Estate Vice President of Real Estate/Development Services Dave Traynor pose for a photograph near a model of Virage Bayshore Wednesday, April 05, 2017 in Tampa. The luxury condominium building features 24 stories with 71 residences. Among other features of the building are Penthouse Residences of exceptionally large size. The top two floors of the tower offer a single penthouse residence each, with homes spanning 6,900-square-feet and panoramic views of Hillsborough Bay, South Tampa and downtown. The following four floors are have two 4,500-square-feet residences per floor. The Tower Residences range in size from 2,400-square-feet to 3,300-square-feet. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  14. Tampa attorney accused of secretly videotaping women offers to give up law license


    ST. PETERSBURG — Attorney James Patrick Stanton Jr., accused of secretly videotaping nude and partially dressed female employees at a Tampa company, has offered to voluntarily give up his law license in exchange for the Florida Bar dropping misconduct charges against him.

    The announcement came this morning as Stanton, former corporate counsel for MaintenX International, appeared in a St. Petersburg courtroom for what would have been the start of a two-day hearing in the Bar's case against him....

    James Patrick Stanton Jr., inset, is accused of secretly videotaping female colleagues at MaintenX International.
  15. Tampa Bay rents are soaring and hitting minorities the hardest

    Real Estate

    Rents continue to soar in the Tampa Bay area, with the big increases hitting blacks and Hispanics the hardest.

    That's the conclusion of two separate reports on a growing rent affordability problem that is predicted to push more renters toward buying this year.

    The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in St. Petersburg, which has seen an explosion in upscale apartment construction, has jumped 15.4 percent to $1,420 since the same time last year, according to the online apartment rental site Zumper. In Tampa, rents for two bedrooms are up 13 percent to $1,220....

    Rents continue to soar in the Tampa Bay area, with the big increases hitting blacks and Hispanics the hardest. 
[Times file photo]