The relocation of Birmingham Wholesale Market from Digbeth to a new site elsewhere in the city has moved a step nearer with a US development company understood to be involved in discussions with the city council.
Hines Europe has already held some preliminary meetings with officials but last night a spokesman at its London offices declined to provide a statement. The spokesman said: "I have spoken to our people on the development side of the business and they have no comment."
The present site in Digbeth covers 21 acres and is bounded by Bradford Street and Pershore Street. Its sale could raise £15 million for the city council which is expected to go towards the cost of the new library in Centenary Square.
Hines is expected to be given preferred developer status next month for a mixed-use development which will be part of the city council's Big City Plan for 2,000 acres. It was launched on Wednesday by city council leader Mike Whitby.
The plan envisages big changes to the heart of the city and includes Digbeth's link to the redevelopment of New Street Station and Eastside. A new tram line may run through Digbeth.
The city council confirmed its plans last November to relocate the wholesale market. It opened on its present site in 1974 and has a turnover of £600 million annually. It distributes meat, vegetables, fruit, seafood, frozen food and flowers to more than 4,000 retail outlets.
Birmingham Wholesale Market is the biggest of its kind in the UK - its new site is still to be chosen. Consultants will prepare a business case for moving it to a location more accessible for its customers.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said it was "not in a position to respond".
Hines is a privately owned, international real estate firm with a presence in more than 100 cities around the globe. It controls assets valued at approximately $19.9 billion (£10 billion).