Carillion has started the first phase of public realm improvements at Greengate in Salford, including footbridge, water fountains and sculptures.
Designed by Leeds-based architects Whitelaw Turkington and engineers Arup, the work is due for completion by April 2012.
At a later stage, Ask Developments plans a major mixed-use development on the 32-acre site near Manchester Cathedral.
The public realm element is being delivered by Salford City Council supported by Central Salford urban regeneration company, North West Development Agency and European Regional Development Fund.
Mark Hughes, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, said: "Today marks the start of another significant development for Salford, which complements the redevelopment work taking place in nearby Chapel Street and Media City UK."