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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. This Old House — up on blocks — frustrates St. Petersburg neighbors, city

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG --- Everyone agrees that the house on one of St. Petersburg's busiest streets is a bona fide eyesore.

    "It's a horrible sight," said city council member Darden Rice.

    "Nobody is happy with what it looks like," said city planning director David Goodwin.

    "It's like seeing a bombed-out bunker on a major road,'' said nearby resident Kristy Andersen.

    Even the house's owner is unhappy. "The neighbors are up in arms," Mark Taber said Monday, "and I don't blame them.''...

    Neighbors are frustruated with the lack of progress at this old, relocated house at 721 9th Avenue North in St. Petersburg.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  2. Jeff Vinik-Cascade Investment partnership buys historic Tampa building for offices

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — An affiliate of Strategic Property Partners has purchased a historic downtown building for use as its office space as it forges ahead with a massive redevelopment of the Channel District.

    802 Whiting LLC acquired a 1920s-era building at 802 E. Whiting that housed a paper company and wholesale grocer before becoming the District 3 event space, its current use.

    "As we prepare for construction to begin on our phase 1 projects in 2018, our office space requirements have evolved, and our staff has grown," James Nozar, CEO of SPP, said in announcing the purchase of that property and a building next door....

    An aerial rendering of the $2 billion redevelopment project that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners plan on 40 acres around Amalie Arena. On Friday, SPP said an affiliate has acquired a building to use as office space. [Rendering courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
  3. Lay of the land: radical transformations underway in Florida real estate

    Real Estate

    CHAMPIONS GATE — When Dean Saunders graduated from high school in Clermont in the late 1970s, the Central Florida town had 3,200 residents and two stoplights between it and Winter Garden a dozen miles up the road.

    Now there are 32,000 people and 21 stoplights.

    "People are migrating to Florida, more than 1,000 a day," said Saunders, a commercial real estate broker and former state representative. "What do more people do? They provide a demand for real estate." ...

    One way the use of Florida land is transforming: the decline of citrus is leading to a push into other crops, such as blueberries.
[Times file photo]
  4. Tampa Bay market 'healthiest in 10 years' as home prices continue to soar

    Real Estate

    Tampa Bay home prices continue to soar, but the meager supply of available properties that continues to frustrate buyers may finally be starting to ease.

    In February, the median price of a house jumped by double digits in all four bay area counties compared to the same month a year ago. Hernando led with an astounding 24.4 percent gain.

    "I don't think (prices) are sustainable at this particular rate but we certainly have influences in the market that are in a very positive direction," Charles Richardson, senior regional vice president of Coldwell Banker, said Tuesday....

    This gulf-front home in  Port Richey sold for $900,000 in February, making it Pasco County's top-priced home that month.
[Courtesy of Michael Constantine]
  5. A year after her death, Joy Culverhouse has final resting place but legal battle continues

    Courts

    Nearly a year after her death at 96, the widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse finally has been cremated.

    Joy Culverhouse's estranged son, Hugh Jr., said her ashes arrived by mail late last week at his Coral Gables home.

    "While not a Chinese food box, they are in a cardboard box," he said today.

    The cremation was the latest chapter in the bitter, sometimes bizarre fight over Culverhouse's multi-million dollar estate. Hugh Jr. and sister Gay — who accuse their mother's grandson and two other men of taking financial advantage her — had refused to allow disposition of her remains without an autopsy on her brain and access to her medical records....

    Nearly a year after her death at 96, the widow of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse finally has been cremated. [Times file photo]
  6. Jeb Bush: Trump on 'right path' but needs to fill agency posts

    Blog

    KISSIMMEE -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says President Donald Trump is "on the right path" in trying to reduce government regulations but rapped his slow pace in filling key second- and third-tier posts in federal agencies.

    "I know not enough appointments have been made to carry out his agenda," said Bush, speaking to the annual Lay of the Land Florida real estate conference on Friday....

  7. Why are there so few mortgages in Tampa Bay these days?

    Real Estate

    What happened to all the mortgages?

    Along with the dramatic drop in Tampa Bay foreclosure filings has been this equally striking if less-noticed trend — a huge decline in new mortgages.

    In 2005-06, during the last real estate boom, 101,506 mortgages were recorded in Pinellas County. Last year, there were just 35,995.

    The numbers are even more startling for Hillsborough County. In 2005, 124,983 mortgages were recorded. Last year: only 45,487. ...

    Home sales (and home prices in particular) are picking up but the number of mortgages recorded has yet to bounce back. One reason: a dryup in refinancings. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  8. Flipping houses stays red hot and Tampa Bay remains one of its favorite markets

    Real Estate

    Daniel Paloscio has an enviable record flipping homes.

    Last April, he and a partner paid $275,000 for a house in a coveted South Tampa neighborhood. After renovations, they sold it in November for $515,000 — a gross profit of $240,000.

    That wasn't their only impressive flip. A Tarpon Springs house Paloscio snagged for $170,000 last year sold six months later for $325,000.

    But Paloscio knows that good candidates for flipping are increasingly hard to find. That's one reason he's started to focus more on "wholesaling" — buying and selling as-is properties that other people can flip....

    A buyer got this South Tampa home in April for $275,000, listed it at $499,900 in October and sold it for $515,000 in November.
  9. As thousands of Tampa Bay residents gain equity in homes, tight for-sale inventory may ease

    Real Estate

    In more good news for the real estate market, thousands of Tampa Bay residents have regained equity in their homes.

    As of the end of last year, 526,660 of all homes with mortgages were worth more than the amount owed, CoreLogic reported Thursday. That's 36,289 more than at the end of 2015.

    That could prompt more people to put their properties up for sale, relieving the tight inventory that has been driving up bay area prices....

    As more Tampa Bay homes regain equity lost during the housing crash, the number of short sales -- area home sales for less than the amount owed on the property -- will continue to decline. [iStockphoto]
  10. Does Tampa Bay have right latitude for a Margaritaville retirement community?

    Real Estate

    For baby boomers in their golden years, wasting away in Margaritaville could soon become a happy reality.

    Tampa-based Minto Communities Florida has teamed with Margaritaville Holdings to develop "active-adult'' communities inspired by the 1977 Jimmy Buffett hit that still evokes boozy tropical fantasies.

    A sales office for the first Latitude Margaritaville is already under construction in Daytona Beach and is expected to open this fall. When completed at an estimated cost of $1 billion, the community just off Interstate 95 will include 6,900 homes, shops and shuttle service to a private beachfront club. ...

    A rendering of Latitude Margaritaville Daytona Beach, the first of planned "active adult'' communities inspired by Jimmy Buffett's hit 1977 song Margaritaville and the laidback, tropical lifestyle it evoked.
[Courtesy of Minto Communities Florida]
  11. South Tampa waterfront community to rise along with Selmon Expressway Extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — To kick off sales at his New Port Tampa Bay project, developer Edward Oelschlaeger threw a gala with a buffet, open bar and Cirque du Soleil-style performers. Eager buyers put down deposits on waterfront condos costing up to $2 million apiece.

    That was in 2006. Within two years, the economy had tanked and the banks began foreclosing. Yet Oelschlaeger remained convinced that the 52 weedy acres near the east end of the Gandy Bridge could still become the next great gateway to Tampa. ...

  12. One of Florida's 'most exclusive' collection of properties hits the market

    Real Estate

    Want to be a neighbor of Florida Gov. Rick Scott?

    Not far from where Scott makes his Naples home, what's billed as one of Florida's "most exclusive'' collections of properties has just hit the market.

    Included in the offering are several buildable lots, three large houses, a private marina and 70 beachfront acres, mostly on Keewaydin Island just off the Naples coast.

    No price has been set. CBRE, the brokerage handling the sale, said there will be a marketing period followed by as yet-undermined deadline for offers. ...

    The founder of giant Federated Investors and his family are selling several homes, buildable lots and other properties on Naples' Gordon Pointe and nearby Keewaydin Island. Florida Gov. Rick Scott owns a gulf-front home on Gordon Drive.
[CBRE]
  13. Judge raps Pasco foreclosure lawyer and one of his clients

    Real Estate

    In an unusually sharply worded ruling, a judge has blasted both a Pasco County lawyer and the homeowner he represented in a foreclosure case.

    Circuit Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd said last week that she found "clear and convincing evidence'' that attorney Constantine Kalogianis intentionally and fraudulently altered mortgage records in attempt to block foreclosure of his client's house.

    And while acknowledging there was no direct evidence homeowner Nicholas Verrengia took part in the fraud, he "at the very least condoned (Kalogianis') actions after the fact,'' the judge said....

    Circuit Judge Kimberly Sharpe Byrd said she found "clear and convincing evidence'' that attorney Constantine Kalogianis intentionally and fraudulently altered mortgage records in attempt to block foreclosure of his client's house.
[Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  14. LM Funding America fends off one legal battle

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Tampa's beleaguered LM Funding America has staved off one legal threat even as it still faces another.

    A federal judge in Tampa last week denied a request to certify a class action lawsuit against LM Funding, which buys the rights filed to collect unpaid homeowner associations fees. The ruling by Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell came in a suit alleging that LM Funding and a related company, Business Law Group, tried to collect more fees than they were owed....

  15. Bridging the gap: Tampa Realtors cross bay to see why St. Pete's condo market is so hot

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — As the Cross-Bay Ferry slips into the Vinoy Basin, Lynn McKinnon points at the high-rises along Beach Drive and lets out a happy little yelp.

    "How exciting!'' she exclaims. "Just think, we're going to be in every one of those condos!''

    It is 10:30 on a weekday morning, and McKinnon, a sales executive with Majesty Title Services, is about to shepherd a group of Tampa real estate agents and home stagers off the ferry and into the opulent buildings that have helped make St. Petersburg one of Florida's hottest housing markets. ...

    A group of Tampa Realtors, title agents and home stagers arrives in downtown St. Petersburg on the Cross-Bay Ferry to tour several high-end condos along Beach Drive. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]