Plans for the regeneration of the area include re-locating the current market outside, then tearing down the market hall, car park and Lancastria House to make way for a possible new cinema.
Leaders are now due to agree to sign a contract with IBI Taylor Young Ltd for the design of the project, at a cost of more than £160,000.
Preston Council’s cabinet is due to discuss the plans at a meeting next week, and members are recommended to award the contract and authorise funding from the city centre investment fund capital programme.
A report to councillors said: “The council, working in partnership with Lancashire County Council, is facilitating major investment into the Markets Quarter of the city centre.
“The first phase of this is the re-location of the markets operation in new facilities situated under the large 1875 Market Canopy.
“Subsequent phases will include the demolition of the current Market Hall, the Market Multi-Storey Car Park and Lancastria House and the potential redevelopment of the resulting cleared site for a cinema-led commercial development.”
It said the authority needed a design consultant to “undertake a leading role in bringing forward a scheme for the new market facilities”.
The report said IBI Taylor Young Ltd had achieved the highest score when combining both quality and cost in the tender process.
It said the total cost of the design consultants’ contract was £161,375, which covers all stages of the design process.