Sefton Council has confirmed Kier will now enter into a pre-construction services agreement in advance of a full contract being signed later this year.
Construction will see a brand new state of the art events centre and accompanying water and light show built on the site of the former Southport Theatre.
A planning application for the scheme procured via the Procure Partnerships North West Framework has been submitted and is expected by be considered this Spring.
Kier has signed up to a special social value plan which will see the firm give back to communities across Sefton.
This will include providing local employment and supply chain opportunities, along with additional time and resources dedicated to working with school and college students who want to explore careers in the construction industry.
Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “By awarding preferred status to Kier we are putting the physical creation of the venue into the hands of a proven contractor with a strong track record.
“The interest of the UK’s leading construction firms in the project, and the standing of the successful bidder, reaffirms the scale of ambition for the future of Southport that this transformational project demonstrates.
“The end goal is a fully flexible, scalable cultural space capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences, exhibitions that is the envy of other towns and cities.
“Kier share in the ambitions of Sefton Council and the Southport Town Deal in making MLEC a soaring success.
“The MLEC, together with the Light Fantastic, is forecast to attract more than half a million additional visitors to Southport year on year and generating an annual £18m for the local economy and I am delighted that Sefton Council is once again leading the way in exciting projects like this.”
Construction information experts Barbour ABI said the other bidders for the scheme were Bowmer & Kirkland, Wates and Willmott Dixon.