The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


It is not every day that a groundbreaking for a new commercial building in Pemberville occurs.

Wednesday morning at 8 a.m., village representatives and business owners celebrated the groundbreaking of the Baker Building being constructed just inside the village limit at 531 East Front Street.

Attending the groundbreaking were Mayor James Opelt, Council President Gordon Bowman, the buildings’ owners, Lance and Darla Baker, and project foreman Mark Cairl from Midwest Construction Inc.

“Because of these bad economic times, we’re very happy that this is happening,” Mayor Opelt said.

The 2,250 square feet Baker Building, located just east of the railroads tracks off State Route 105 just before one leaves Pemberville heading towards Woodville, will house up to four businesses.

The last commercial building constructed in Pemberville is a car wash located a

A worker from Midwest Contracting begins
moving dirt at the site of the Baker Building
in Pemberville. (Press photo by J. Patrick Eaken)

few hundred feet from the Baker Building, which was permitted in 2005 and construction completed in 2006.



In addition, Freedom Township has purchased land in town and plans to

construct a new complex between the car wash and the Baker Building. The complex will include a meeting room, outbuildings, and a large parking lot.



Mayor Opelt said the village planning commission has approved the township’s

Attending the groundbreaking of the Baker Building in
Pemberville were (left to right) project foreman Mark
Cairl from Midwest Construction Inc., Council President
Gordon Bowman (behind Cairl), Mayor James Opelt,
Nationwide Insurance agent Darla Baker and Lance
Baker of Baker Property Holdings LLC. (Press photo by
J. Patrick Eaken)

plans, but the township is waiting for pieces to fall into place before construction can begin.

The Baker Building is the brain child of Lance and Darla Baker, who formed L. Baker Property Holdings LLC. The building’s principal tenant will be the Darla Baker Insurance Agency LLC.

Darla has been a Nationwide agent since 2004 and her business currently operates offices in downtown Pemberville and Millbury. Her staff includes three full-time employees and one part-time employee, and the agency will keep the branch office operating in Millbury after construction of the new Pemberville building is complete.

Three other suites in the Baker Building are available for lease, including two at 600 square feet and one at 350 square feet.

“We have some interested parties that we’ve been talking to,” Lance said.

The building will have stone exterior, similar to materials Darla liked and copied from a commercial building in Archbold constructed by Midwest. Construction on Pemberville’s library was by Midwest, and the Bakers inquired to the library’s board before hiring the Holland, Ohio construction company.

Midwest, which also builds schools and churches, was one of five companies that placed a bid, Darla said. Architectural design is by Feller Finch & Associates, Inc., of Maumee. The Bakers are not releasing the final design and construction costs.


No space in P-ville
The Bakers had been looking to relocate Darla’s insurance agency from its current downtown location, but wanted to stay in their hometown of Pemberville.

“We decided that she needed to have a building of her own, so we wanted to make a building that was big enough for her office and a few rental properties in there as well — a couple suites” Lance said.

The couple looked to purchase or lease before making the decision to build.

“There was no space downtown. Everything is occupied,” Lance continued. “Every small town that I’ve driven through, every place you go has properties for rent. Every small town that you go through has empty store fronts, except Pemberville. Nothing became available.

“So there really wasn’t any place for us to go downtown. We would have liked to have been downtown and we waited a period of time and nothing became available so we decided to build out here,” Lance added.

“It’s still in town,” Darla said. “There were many alternatives, just nothing suitable to purchase or rent for us,” Darla said.

Before Wednesday’s groundbreaking began, workers from Midwest had already begun moving dirt.

“I’m very excited because we’ve been waiting a long time,” Darla said. “We wanted to start in November, and by the time you’ve got all your permits and legalities done — but, we’re finally moving.”

Lance added, “The village has been very, very helpful in making this whole project move forward. They were great. It was really a pleasure working with them, and they are still working with us. They are very cooperative. It’s really been a good experience.”

The Bakers expect the building to be completed in June or July this year, depending on the weather and other conditions.

This is the Baker’s first commercial building and they look forward to becoming landlords. Lance will be the chief operator of L. Baker Holdings. After the groundbreaking, Lance was traveling to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana for his employer, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, a manufacturer of office equipment.

The Baker Building will cap off a spurt that may see up to seven new businesses arrive in Pemberville within a year.

“Businesses feed off businesses, so we feel the more we get the more it will help our other businesses,” Mayor Opelt told The Press. “We’re pretty excited about having six, seven businesses coming in at one time.”

In 2005, Pemberville made plans to pay $132,000 to purchase the old Ford Garage located downtown at 118 East Front Street. Last year, Bob Renz purchased the building at auction for $38,000, and he and his brother Bill are investing their own money towards renovation. Three businesses are located inside, including B&B Woodburners, owned and operated by the Renz brothers.

Bob Renz and another business owner, Lori Moore, are both former employees of the closed Modine manufacturing plant in Pemberville. Lori’s Country Closet, owned by Moore, is located in the front portion of the Ford Garage with a window facing Front Street. The shop is a retail outlet for primitives, crafts, and candles.

The third business is Randy’s Body and Paint, owned by Randy Doll. Doll started his car restoration business in Luckey in 1990, and the Ford Garage is his third location.

“The new businesses in the Ford Garage, and now the potential of three to four businesses in this (Baker) building — it’s a great thing for Pemberville,” said Opelt.



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