Hospitality group Beannchor has backed a plan to build a new waterside hotel in Bangor as part of a £75m regeneration of Queen's Parade.
A revamp of the semi-derelict area has been discussed for around 20 years but no progress had been made.
Now consortium Angelvale, which includes Merchant Hotel owner Beannchor, has been chosen by the Department for Communities and Ards and North Down Borough Council to develop Queen's Parade.
Investment company Cubic3, which is leading the firms involved, said the transformation could be completed in 2020.
The plans include a family entertainment centre, public piazza, health centre and three-screen cinema.
Northern Ireland building firm McLaughlin & Harvey and social housing association Clanmil are also involved - along with unnamed international entertainment and leisure operators.
Beannchor Group managing director Bill Wolsey said: "The plans for the development at Queen's Parade, Bangor, are very impressive and would be hugely beneficial to the hospitality, leisure and tourism offering of the town.
"We would be thrilled to be involved in the development of a hotel property on the basis that the development in its entirety comes to fruition."
Cubic3 said Queen's Parade had much untapped potential and was known as "a traditional seaside holiday destination, surrounded by vibrant Edwardian and Victorian features and the attractive Bangor Marina, Ireland's second largest marina".
"It currently forms an important part of the town centre fabric, but its potential as a leading destination has yet to be fully realised," it said.
Robert Adair, the mayor of Ards and North Down, said: "This news is much anticipated by council, residents and businesses in Bangor and the wider community.
"The regeneration of Queen's Parade is critical for the future of Bangor and will maximise the potential of the Borough of Ards and North Down."
Roger Alexander, managing director of Cubic3, said: "We are delighted to be selected by the department and the council to work with them over the next few years to deliver our ambitious vision for the region.
"We believe it will establish Bangor as a new destination centre in Northern Ireland."
But the sites will not be bought outright under the plans. Instead, the consortia would enter a development agreement with the council and Department for Communities, and take a long-term lease.