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Denny Hecker car garage is gone

Tom Latterner, his son Brian Latterner and Roger Day take a break from salvaging scrap from the demolished car dealership garage on Coulee Road at 17th Street. Latterner Enterprises is a subcontractor for Fendler Patterson Construction, which will be building a 20,600-square-foot Goodwill store on the site.1 / 2
The landscape has changed with the removal of the former Denny Hecker and Gilbert Motors dealership garage from the corner of Coulee Road and 17th Street.2 / 2

What used to be the car dealership garage at 1621 Coulee Road is now a collection of recycling piles.

Steel beams here. Sheet metal over there next to the aluminum. And beyond, a pile of rumble yet to be sorted.

"We recycle everything," said Tom Latterner, owner of Latterner Enterprises of Maple Grove, Minn., pausing from the cleanup long enough to answer a few questions Thursday afternoon.

His company was two days into tearing down and removing the former Denny Hecker car garage.

It was Gilbert Motors Pontiac-GMC for many years before Hecker's purchase of the dealership in June of 2000.

Gilbert Motors was started by the late Lloyd Gilbert in 1935. Originally located at the corner of First and Commercial streets in downtown Hudson, Gilbert moved the business to the corner of Coulee Road and 17th Street in 1952.

Eden Prairie, Minn., developer Robert Grootwassink announced plans to purchase the property and build a Goodwill Industries store there in early 2009.

The project was delayed by Hecker's financial and legal problems.

In May of 2009, Grootwassink told the Hudson City Council that he was uncertain who owned the property. He said he had a purchase agreement with Hecker, but Chrysler Financial was claiming a stake in the property because of the millions of dollars Hecker owed the company.

Latterner said Thursday that the project is back on track.

He said his company was clearing the site and would be back in April to do the "dirt work" and lay footings for the new building.

Latterner is a subcontractor for Fendler Patterson Construction of Savage, Minn., the general contractor.

The City Council has already given approval for a 20,600-square-foot Goodwill store on the site.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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