Warrington Council's cabinet voted to begin a search to find a development partner to deliver a major scheme in the heart of the town.
If delivered, the Bridge Street Quarter will contain 800,000 sq ft of commercial space including a new market hall, shops, cinema, bars and restaurants.
New office accommodation for the council is likely to underpin the development and the council said compulsory purchase orders will probably be needed to assemble the site.
Cllr Bob Barr, executive board member for planning, regeneration and housing at the council said: "The aim of these proposals is to make Warrington town centre a high quality place to work, shop and relax for the benefit residents, business owners and visitors alike."
The whole site is about 17 acres in size, from the west side of Bridge Street to Academy Way in the east, Buttermarket Street in the North and Mersey Street in the south.
Last year, the council paid £6m, funded by the North West Development Agency, to buy three acres at Time Square within the development area from property company Big Apple.
Designers Taylor Young are masterplanning the Bridge Street Quarter project.