The Detroit Marine Terminal, also known as the Detroit Harbor Terminal and the Bob-lo Warehouse / Dock is a 10-story cold storage warehouse on the Detroit River. Built in 1925 by The Detroit Railway and Harbor Terminals Company, the warehouse was intended to relieve a shortage of available storage space. Cargo ships would unload materials at the dock, which were then stored or loaded onto train cars. To support the tremendous weight of so many tonnes of freight, the floors and columns were made out of reinforced concrete, which spread the load across the length of the building. On the north side of the plant was a single-story building that provided heating and cooling, as well as massive engines to power the air compressors.
Ownership of the port changed hands several times throughout the 60's and 70's, eventually landing Detroit Marine Terminals, Inc. In 2002 and 2003, the US government increased tarifs on foreign-produced steel, resulting in a decline of freight coming through the terminal. Operations were suspended in September of 2003, and the port and warehouse were shut down.
After sitting idle for two years, the port was purchased and reopened in the summer of 2005 by the city Port Authority, Ambassador Port Co., and Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. Today it handles mostly steel cargo, including steel coils, wire, slabs destined for auto factories. Other cargo, and the occasional US Navy vessel call at the port during the year.
On October 28th, 2008 a 2-alarm fire broke out on the 5th floor of the warehouse. There have been several other smaller fires since then, leaving plenty of soot while not really doing much damage to the building.
The future of the warehouse is unclear. Plans unveiled by the Port of Detroit in 2006 indicated that the "vacant and functionally obsolete ten-story warehouse that sits just southwest of the 35-acre marine terminal... is currently planned for conversion by the Port Authority. This approximate 4-acre site will be used for enhanced storage and handling operations of bulk commodities." Scrappers have stripped out much of the metal pipes and power plant equipment, but the building is still structurally sound. New fencing was erected in the winter of 2012 around the plant and the entrances were boarded up for the first time in years.
The north and east sides of the building have large painted advertisements for Ferry service to Bob-Lo Island, an amusement park located in the Detroit River. Ferry service actually took place at an adjacent dock, and was discontinued in the 1990's. The south side of the building still reads "Detroit Harbor Terminals, Inc." which owned the warehouse from 1966 to 1976.