A consortium led by Amec Developments and a team headed by developer Teesland were shortlisted last month by Reading council to redevelop the 12 ha area as a public-private partnership.
The council will make its final decision next month.
Amec is teamed with Manhattan Loft Corporation, urban designer EDAW and multidisciplinary firm Gibb; Teesland's team includes Malaysian architect Ken Yeang, contractor Gleeson and Bewley Homes.
The site, in a western district of the town, houses a 1000-space concrete car park, municipal offices, a 1960s swimming pool, theatre and shopping mall.
Under the plans prepared by the two teams the area would be provided with at least two mixed-use towers, more than 200 residential units, a new swimming pool and theatre, shops and offices.
The Teesland bid is understood to include skyscrapers and a cultural building designed by Ken Yeang. The Amec consortium plans to hold a series of international architectural competitions for elements of the scheme.
The idea of a new district was put forward in a 1998 masterplan by architect Crispin Wride Design Studio, a division of Gibb.
The masterplan also proposed to hide a notorious inner distribution road that encircles the town centre by putting it into a tunnel and building a linear park above it.
Reading 2020, the town's long term regeneration strategy, aims to stem the migration of businesses from the town centre to business parks and to create a new cultural quarter and public spaces.
n Architect Elsie Owusu is working with Ken Yeang on a revised mixed-use scheme in Deptford, south-east London, the centrepiece of which is a £5m gallery of contemporary African art.
Owusu parachuted in Yeang to design a mixed-use tower on the site after Lewisham council, which owns it, threatened to sell the land to developer Rosebery Homes. The new scheme will be submitted for detailed planning approval next month.
However Rosebery still has a claim on the site with its scheme, designed by Broadway Malyan' for an 80,000 m2 mixed-use cluster of buildings.