The invitation to tender to build the Barons Quay town centre development in Northwich has been published by Cheshire West & Chester Council.
The brief describes a design-and-build contract valued at between £40m and £45m lasting 42 months from the time of appointment.
CWAC intends to develop the mixed-use scheme itself after removing Wilson Bowden as preferred developer in 2011.
Negotiations with prospective anchor tenants are understood to be at an advanced stage, reflected in the confidence to launch the procurement process for a contractor to deliver the scheme. The procurement is being run through the Chest online system.
The proposed scheme would contain 429,600 sq ft of new leisure and retail-led space, including a food store of 73,000 sq ft gross area and 50,000 sq ft net trading, 163,000 sq ft of non-food retail, 23,000 sq ft cinema, 70-bed hotel, alongside 45 apartments, petrol filling station, car park, and highways improvements.
Planning permission was granted in March for the scheme, which the council hopes to complete in 2016.
The project team so far has included building consultants Rider Levett Bucknall, architect Broadway Malyan, and Lambert Smith Hampton and Tushingham Moore as letting and investment agents.
The deadline for expressions of interest for the design-and-build contract is 19 September.
CWAC declined to comment further until pre-let deals were agreed with the anchor tenants.