Developers are studying the investment potential in Stranraer
An international development company is considering taking the lead in a multi-million pound scheme to regenerate Stranraer waterfront.
It comes after claims the project had been "downgraded" in Scottish Government priorities.
The firm has signed a 90-day agreement to negotiate with ferry operator Stena Line and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Local councillor Robert Higgins said that if a deal could be struck it could transform the town.
Last month the council voiced concerns that improvement plans had gone from being a "national" to a "local" priority.
A government spokesman said at the time it still wanted the project to succeed and deliver benefits for the area.
However, it has now emerged that private business could take the lead in helping regenerate the area.
Although the name of the company has not been revealed it is understood to be a major international development firm.
Councillor Higgins said it could be a huge boost to the area if it resulted in long-term investment in the town.
'Place of importance'
He added: "This company came and looked at Scotland as a desktop exercise and Stranraer is where they selected.
"That tells you something - it is not a forgotten bit of water, it can be a place of major importance.
"This is probably one of the most exciting things in my lifetime if it all comes to pass and I sincerely hope it does."
The news was also welcomed by Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown.
He said: "Obviously this is encouraging news.
"Significant private investment will be essential to delivering a successful regeneration project, and hopefully the council can work positively with this developer to take the waterfront scheme forward."