Steven Broomhead, former chief executive of the North West Development Agency, has been appointed chairman of Chester Renaissance, the regeneration agency for the city centre.
Broomhead will chair a new strategic board with appointments to be made in the summer, according to Cheshire West & Chester Council, which oversees.
Broomhead will replace Shane Flynn, former chief executive of credit card company MBNA Europe. Chester Renaissance is pushing forward the One City Plan and the recommendations of the Urban Land Institute's recent study.
Conservative council leader Cllr Mike Jones: "We are delighted to secure someone of Steven's calibre and reputation. He has huge experience of regeneration matters, regionally and nationally, with extensive knowledge of both the public and private sectors.
"Professor Broomhead will bring a fresh, determined and cohesive approach both to the marketing of Chester – highlighted by the ULI study – and our comprehensive development strategy via the One City Plan."
The strategic board will direct and commission all aspects of the drive to transform Chester into a world class destination, including marketing, city management, arts, events and enterprise support.
"Chester is famously Mrs Thatcher's Jewel in the Crown of the North West. That jewel has become slightly tarnished but the One City Plan will repolish and restore the old glitter," said Broomhead.
"The Urban Land Institute made the point that the days of Government largess are gone and I'm looking forward to working with the city's public, private and third sector leaders to achieve our aims together."
He added: "That will not just be to create economic wealth for the commercial and retail heart of the city – but also to improve the quality of life for the whole community.
"Whilst we will concentrate on making the most of our wonderful priceless heritage assets it must not be at the expense of progress. There is a fine balance which will enable us to compete at every level.
"The council and its partners have already laid the basis for change and I will be looking at the current situation to see how we can continue that process in a way that most effectively benefits Chester."
Working alongside Chester's strategic board will be a stakeholders' forum representing different parts of the community.
Broomhead currently holds two positions at Liverpool Hope University, chair of entrepreneurial education and chief director of institutional development.