Cheshire West & Chester Council councillors have approved a plan to buy Chester's former Odeon Cinema from Barnsley-based owners, The Brook Group, for an undisclosed sum.
Members of all parties voted unanimously in favour of the move at Thursday's meeting of the full council. The decision was taken in a private session because of regulations concerning commercial confidentiality.
Leader Cllr Mike Jones said: "The Odeon's position in the Chester city centre means that the building will have an important role in the development of the all-important One City Plan.
"Our officers will now be instructed to finalise the arrangements with the Brook Group."
Last night's decision follows a recent meeting between Brook Group representatives, CWAC chief executive, Steve Robinson, and the council's head of facilities and asset management, Noel O'Neill.
Jason Brook, chief executive of the Brook Group, said: "Recently I made it clear that we wanted to work with the local authority on future plans for the Odeon. Hopefully, this new development will speed up the realisation of our mutual aspirations for the building.
"We look forward to completing arrangements with the Council in the near future."
The Art Deco, Grade II listed building in Northgate Street, is one of two preferred sites for Chester's proposed new theatre – but feasibility studies continue and no final decision has yet been taken. A four-month feasibility study identified the Little Roodee as the other potential site.