The Paradise Circus redevelopment in Birmingham received the boost after the local enterprise partnership approved an enterprise-zone allocation of more than £60m to transform the 7ha site and knock down a hotel.
Plans show a stepped amphitheatre-like square, one of two major public open spaces, and offices overlooking expansive grassed areas, trees and water features. Chamberlain Square will be refurbished and existing streets softened with trees.
The cash, approved by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull partnership, will enable the city to borrow the same amount. Councillors agreed the deal last week. Argent, which developed Brindleyplace, gained outline planning consent last year.
Townshend Landscape Architects is working with Glenn Howells Architects on the masterplan, which won cautious praise last year from TV property broadcaster Kevin McCloud. But he said it must not become "another place of windy concrete".
Expansive open spaces, traffic-free streets and squares near the neoclassical town hall and central library open up the dense urban site. McCloud praised a generous public realm and pedestrian landscape offering free and easy access.
Detailed design for the mixed-used scheme between Chamberlain Square and Centenary Square is due to start this spring and development works in autumn 2014.