Worthing Borough Council hopes the multi-million pound purchase of Union Place will help its efforts to kick start economic regeneration.
The vacant plot of land played host to a homeless community last year was the site of a violent assault.
But now the council hopes Union Place can play a key part in Worthing’s economic future.
Councillor Dan Humphreys, leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “For too long residents and businesses in Worthing have waited for firm proposals to come forward for Union Place.
“But in order to provide local people with jobs and homes we need to get moving on this.
“The key thing about today’s announcement is that we are now back in control.
“I look forward to being able to move forward quickly but responsibly in finding a partner to bring this long-awaited project forward.”
The bid follows hot on the heels of the council’s decision to demolish the Teville Gate multi-storey car park to create impetus for the private development of the rest of that site.
For years, the prominent Union Place site – which once hosted the town’s police station – has sat dormant as viable schemes to revamp the area failed to materialise.
Now keen to push on with an ambitious agenda of creating jobs and homes, the council bought the site from the private owner.
By combining it with the car park which sits on land the local authority already owns, council leaders say the move allows it to inject fresh impetus to the stalled redevelopment project.
The next step is to work with other partners to bring forward deliverable proposals for the whole site.
In 2016 the Council attempted to bring the development of the site forward by proposing a partnership with the owners of the site, Change Real Estate Ltd.
Among the ideas for the 1.4-acre area was a multiplex cinema, about 150 residential apartments and up to seven restaurants in a mixed use scheme.
But, with no firm plans being brought forward, the council has used £3.5m of money secured through the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership to buy the plot from Change.
The council will now pool together all of the land it owns in the street to develop a viable redevelopment scheme which will provide jobs, homes and recreational space for those living in the town.
Leaders say they are willing to consider all potential options for the site to ensure that a project was delivered which was beneficial to everyone.
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “All options are open to us at this stage. The only thing that is certain is that we are getting moving with the long-term regeneration schemes that have been stalled for many years.
“With progress on Teville and the former Aquarena as well as ambitious plans to transform the town centre, work on Building Worthing is progressing at great pace.
“This will then bring yet more investment into the town, which is good news for residents, businesses and visitors.”