Central Chelmsford Development Agency, a subsidiary of the Genesis Housing Association, plans to build up to 600 homes on the site, as well as offices and shops.
Work is scheduled to start next April on the first phase of the social housing element, which is worth up to £43m.
The job includes building 209 homes in multi-storey apartment blocks, refurbishment of existing buildings and new highways layouts.
Genesis has included refurbishment of the Grade II listed Anne Knight Building and the Frederick Chancellor Building within the scope of the prequalification process, but added these projects may be let separately.
E C Harris is client project manager and will handle the procurement.
Firms will need to submit a performance bond and have been given until Tuesday to download prequalification documents, available from http://www.echarris-pqq.com/Documents/CCP_Register.aspx