A £12 million park at Birmingham Eastside could open by 2009 - if the city council wins the National Lottery.
The council does not have enough of its own money to build the eight-acre park and is relying on a bid to the Living Landmarks lottery fund for a £9 million contribution.
The new fund has £25 million to give to inspirational regeneration projects in the West Midlands.
If the bid fails, the council will attempt to secure funding from other sources and in that case the park would have to be constructed in phases over a number of years.
The council cabinet will next week signal the start of an international design competition for Birmingham's first city centre park for more than 100 years.
Six shortlisted architects will each receive £5,000 and the winning designer will get the contract to build the park. Members of the public are to be given the chance to vote for the best design and an expert panel is being formed to judge the shortlisted designs.
Land needed for the park and other Eastside developments is to be compulsorily purchased by the council.
A design brief makes it clear the park must be accessible 24-hours a day and should be a "wildlife-rich" space with trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Designers are being told to maximise the use of water and
to use best practice in landscaping, construction and maintenance.
The brief suggests the park should be at the heart of Birmingham artistic and cultural life and able to accommodate organised events as well as spontaneous activity.
A cabinet report adds: "The significance of the park requires that its design should be unique and inspirational, appealing to the widest spectrum of both current and future residents, and worthy of the city's aspirations as a great international city.
"The park's design and function should be an innovative standard- bearer for place-making. As a new space it should inspire, be forward looking, not simply dependent on collective memory nor the past, and capture creatively and culturally Eastside's acclaimed themes of learning, technology and heritage."
The brief sets out a number of requirements that the winning design must fulfil.
People using the park must be able to enjoy every aspect in safety, must be able to appreciate the visual stature and must be "surprised at what a modern park can offer."