Three companies have been shortlisted to build a £40m retail and leisure development in Neath town centre.
New shops, restaurants, bars, heritage building and car park are being planned for the old civic centre site.
Neath Port Talbot Council said almost 20 developers had expressed interest in the scheme but it had narrowed these down to three "excellent submissions".
They will draw up detailed plans by October when traders and residents will be able to comment on the proposals.
The council has named Simons Development Ltd, Hammerson plc and Bridehall Developments as its shortlisted candidates from 17 applicants.
Council leader Derek Vaughan said the development was needed so that Neath could compete with out-of-town retail parks and neighbouring town centres.
"We are very pleased with the response we have had," he said.
"We have been able to select three top-flight developers with outstanding track records.
"This is another key step towards regenerating Neath and we will be looking forward to businesses and residents commenting later in the year."
The site includes the old civic centre, which should be demolished by the end of this year.
Most the land is council owned and it is estimated the cost of the project would be in the region of £35m-£40m.