DETROIT (WJBK) - After more than 30 years of decay and abandonment, the Michigan Central Station is getting a new chance at life with Ford - and the Detroit automaker is giving you a look inside before they fully revitalize the 100-year-old building.
Starting Friday at 1, Ford is offering free tours of the building. However - you had to have pre-registered and Ford's site says that they are at full capacity for the tours. You can join a waitlist though, check out the link at the bottom of this story.
There's good news though. Ford is giving FOX 2's Kellie Rowe an inside look at the tour you would have gotten. Kellie will go inside the historic building and show you everything that Ford will allow all visitors to see this weekend. The livestream of the building will start around 11 a.m. You can watch it on our Facebook page or at fox2detroit.com/live.
Not only is this a chance to see inside the building for the first time - it will help you determine if it's worth waiting in line to see the building at all!
Ford Motor Company was announced as the buyer for iconic building in Corktown. Earlier this week, the company announced their plans to fix and and move into the historic structure, bringing excitement to the city, and the surrounding neighborhood.
"It became a symbol of the city's hard times, a monument to its struggles," said Bill Ford, Jr. "It's time for that to change."
The renovation of the station will take close to four years. If you're expecting a huge blue oval hovering above the building, you may not see it. Ford says he wants to be respectful of the neighbors in the area, and that they haven't decided about the signage yet.
This isn't the Ford family's first attempt to expand in the area. Back in 1920, 7 years after the station openedwas complete, Henry Ford started to buy land around the area and had development plans. But the Great Depression and other financial problems ended those plans.
Then came the two wars, the availability of passenger vehicles, and the decline in riders.
In 1967, Michigan Central Station closed its waiting room for the first time. Three years later, the federal government tried to revive passenger rail with the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970. Thus, Amtrak was and started operating a nationwide rail system in 1971 that included the Motor City.
Two years later, the country was in the middle of the 1973 oil crisis and Americans were once again riding the rails. That was when the photographer made his way into the waiting to snap this photo. With benches stacked high with papers and items needed for travel, the waiting room was waiting for travelers. Travelers who wouldn't come for another two years.
After the boom in railroad travel, Amtrak responded by spending over $1 million Michigan Central Station and reopened the waiting room in 1975. Unfortunately, the boom was short-lived and Detroit passenger rail use declined again for the next decade.
In 1985, the Kaybee corporation bought the station and the last train pulled out in 1988.
The 500,000-square-foot building has stood empty since the last train left in 1988. Businessman Manuel "Matty" Moroun bought the building in the mid-1990s after a previous owner defaulted on a loan.
Ford announced last year that it was going to move its autonomous and electric vehicle business and strategy teams to Corktown. In addition to the train station, Ford owns several other neighborhood properties that will be renovated and rehabbed.
The company already has started moving about 200 workers into a refurbished former factory a few blocks from the station. The automaker estimates the size of its campus at about 1.2 million square feet. The station and office tower is expected to anchor the automaker's research and development of self-driving vehicles. It also gives Ford a presence in Detroit which continues to rebound after exiting bankruptcy in 2014.
This move is expected to bring thousands of tech-related workers into the downtown area and to spur the grown of Corktown, which is among the city's neighborhoods that have become trendy in recent years.
You can still JOIN THE WAITLIST HERE.