The centre could be open by 2011
Plans to build a £18m visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway have been submitted by the National Trust.
The controversial project at the World Heritage Site in County Antrim is to receive £6m investment from the trust.
Legend has it the Irish giant Finn McCool built the causeway to cross the sea and fight a Scottish rival.
Former DUP junior minister Ian Paisley Jnr quit in February after criticism about links to a property developer who was interested in the site.
Mr Paisley strongly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
The trust's Northern Ireland director, Hilary McGrady, said: "The trust, in partnership with Moyle District Council, has made enormous progress since last November.
"We are confident and determined to deliver visitor facilities which will enhance tourism and benefit the local area and indeed everyone in Northern Ireland."
Ms McGrady said the trust's ability to lever other funding sources would mean the cost to government and the tax-payer "looks set to be less than half of the £21m previously anticipated".
The National Trust and Moyle Council will provide funds
"Key to all of this is that this investment will ensure that the Giant's Causeway visitor facilities remain in public ownership," she said.
Subject to planning approval by the end of 2008, funding being in place and tendering being completed, the trust hopes to be on site by autumn 2009 with the new visitor centre open by spring 2011.
The previous visitor centre burned down in 2000 and a temporary building has been used since then.
Last year the then Environment Minister Arlene Foster came under fire when she said she was "minded" to let private developer Seymour Sweeney rebuild at the World Heritage Site. That decision was reversed. If planning permission is granted, the National Trust will build a design by Dublin architects who won an International Design Competition in 2005.