The contractor will be appointed to work alongside the council and its professional advisers on Chester Northgate to develop the design, test buildability and manage out risk.
The first stage of the appointment will be limited to developing the design proposals.
The new development is expected to help drive local, regional and tourist economies.
The council recently made a compulsory purchase order and served notices on a number of properties in the development area to secure the land.
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Councillor Brian Clarke, cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure, said: “This is an exciting time for Northgate and Chester, the recent opening of the bus interchange and Storyhouse has demonstrated our commitment to the city and commencing the process of appointing a contractor for Chester Northgate is further evidence of our commitment and ambitions.”
Potential partners have until the end of September 2017 to apply and shortlisted contractors will be informed in October.
The successful contractor will be appointed in February or March of 2018.
Construction on the scheme is projected to begin at the end of 2018, pending confirmation of the compulsory purchase order by the secretary of state following completion of the statutory process.
Councillor Stuart Parker, shadow cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, added: “The start of the appointment process for the contractor is a clear indication of the pace that is being maintained on the delivery of this critical project.
“It is important that our historic city remains relevant and is a vibrant centre where people want to come to shop, live work and spend their leisure time and Chester Northgate supports these ambitions.”