Land Securities has paid £5.39m to acquire the St John's Shopping Centre from Grosvenor.
The centre was originally due to be part of the Tithebarn retail development proposed by Grosvenor and Lend Lease. Grosvenor withdrew in 2009 and Lend Lease is expected to unveil plans for a reduced scheme, anchored by John Lewis, in the coming months.
Bert Martin, development director at Land Securities, said: "We are pleased to have bought an asset in a city of the stature of Preston. Now we are looking at ways to improve St John's Shopping Centre and are exploring how it integrates with the wider city centre."