For real estate investors Tiffany and Mark Baker, this is the “Year of 12.” That’s because their goal is to bring 12 businesses to Terre Haute’s 12 Points neighborhood in 12 months.
The Terre Haute natives in September purchased a building at 13th and Maple, naming it the PARQ at 12 Points.
“It has been off to the races ever since,” said Tiffany Baker, who serves as the economic development chair for 12 Points Revitalization Initiative Inc., a not-for-profit established in 2019 to bring business to the city’s northside neighborhood.
The Bakers’ PARQ at 12 Points building has three commercial spaces for rent on the ground level, with five apartments on the second floor.
“We hope to have all that up and running and hopefully fully tenanted by the end of the summer,” Baker said. So far, the building already has two businesses under lease — Sons Spice Company, formerly known as Simply Sons’ Seasoning, and Ferm Fresh, which will relocate its kitchen from Brazil in Clay County.
Each of those rental spaces are about 1,000 square feet; a third, as yet unfilled area, offers about 1,700 square feet.
Both businesses are slated to open in April.
“The high commercial rent on brick and mortar is overwhelming to a small business. My husband and I are giving back to the community by offering low rent,” Baker said of 12 Points, which is located on Terre Haute’s north side and named after the four points at each of three intersections created by Lafayette Avenue, Maple Avenue and 13th Street. Most of the iconic buildings of the district were built in the early 1900s.
It was the affordable rent that attracted Sons Spice Co.
“The rent pushed us to take the lease,” said Gabrielle Sons, who along with her husband, Wyatt, is working to open their business by spring. The company’s previous name — Simply Sons’ Seasoning — will now turn into the company’s product brand.
The company began in January 2020 and by February was selling is product at the Terre Haute Farmers Market. As fate might have it, the company was often placed next to Ferm Fresh, which makes kombucha, hot sauce and other fermented products. Now, the two companies will be neighbors in the PARQ building.
“It is definitely crazy,” Sons said. “It was kind of just meant to be and is nice that we will have nice neighbors that we already know.”
For Grabrielle Sons, the venture has been a rollercoaster, moving from a part-time venture through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, to her now working full-time in the business this year. Her husband continues to work as a cook at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, but also helps in the start-up business.
Beginning with two sauces and two spices at the farmers market, the company has since expanded into retail stores.
“We never expected to go into a store and now we are in seven retailers,” Sons said. And last month, the business partnered with Tollys Bar and Grill to provide gallons of sauce for use on wings. “And they are located down the street from where we will have Sons Spice Company,” she said.
The business will also have another connection in 12 Points. Wyatt Sons, in addition to offering cooking classes, will roast coffee, supplying that to Studio 12, to be located in a building owned by Jimmy Saliju, who owns Great Giorno Italian Cruisine at 1248 Lafayette Ave. in 12 Points.
“We have been trying for years to get the revitalization effort focused in 12 Points and individual businesses have tried so many times to come ... but having all these businesses come in a year’s period, that will be beneficial to everyone,” said Lucy Chew, who with her husband Eric Handlin, plan to open Studio 12 in late March or early April.
Studio 12 will be a coffee shop and an art gallery. The business will include Eric’s Humble Pies, made by Handlin.
“My husband has a degree in visual arts, and we have been wanting to open an art shop and coffee shop specifically in the 12 Points area because that is the area where we live,” Chew said.
Chew is secretary of the 12 Points Revitalization group.
“It is nice that at the same time we took the plunge to [move to the 12 Points] there is movement and attention brought to this area. With all of us trying to come there at the same time, it will give all of us a better chance to survive in the neighborhood,” Chew said.
Tiffany Baker says she’s certain the goal of 12 business at 12 Points in 12 months will be met.
“We know of several other stores that are opening this year and more are coming,” she said. “If I list who I know or believe is coming to the area, we already have our 12” businesses, Baker said, adding another company, Jitterbugs, which sells home furnishings, is already open in 12 Points.
“It is going to happen and we are very, very excited about the momentum and energy over here,” Tiffany said.
For the Bakers, the journey began when they met in high school.
Tiffany is a 2004 graduate of Terre Haute North Vigo High School, while Mark is a 2002 North grad. They each graduated from Indiana State University, with Mark graduating in 2007 with a degree in industrial supervision and Tiffany in 2008 with a degree in accounting.
Mark also served in the Indiana Air National Guard, working as a munitions specialist at the then 181st Fighter Wing. The couple married in 2008 and moved to Indianapolis.
Tiffany then became an accountant for the Navy in the U.S. Department of Defense. They moved to Naples, Italy, where they lived for four years. That’s where their first daughter, Giulietta, now 6, was born.
The couple then moved to Denver, Colorado, where Penelope, now 5, was born. They lived there for two years “around all kinds of big old buildings that had been revitalized and brought back to life and were thriving, so even in Denver, from 2015 to 2017, we were dreaming of what 12 Points could be, never knowing it could come to real life,” Tiffany said.
From there, they moved close to Tokyo, Japan, where Delia Renn, now 3, was born. They lived there for two years.
The couple returned to Terre Haute in 2019 after the sudden death of Mark’s father. They started 3 Sisters Investment LLC, named for their children, in April 2019 and later purchased the PARQ building. The couple also rehabilitates and sells homes.
“We renovate homes to pay our bills,” Tiffany said. “Our real passion is investing our money in our home town. We are bringing houses that have been vacant for years back to life and now this 12 Points thing is just a bigger scale of what we have been doing on the residential side.