CLUGSTON and HBG are neck-and-neck in the race for a £17 million deal to redevelop the centre of Scunthorpe.
Sources close to the project say the joint clients, Chesterfield Properties and local firm Wykeland, have dropped the two otherbidders, Mowlem and Sir Robert McAlpine.
One insider said: 'You can't put a cigarette paper between HBG and Clugston at this stage. There have been minor design changes and the two firms are revising their prices.
'The client is also finalisingdetails with prospective tenants and isn't likely to choose between the two contractors until the end of this year at the earliest.'
The scheme will be built in 10 phases with an 18,500 sq m store for Marks & Spencer as the centrepiece, plus other shops and a multiplex cinema.
The project will also include redeveloping the bus station, a new bus depot and a new multi-storey car park.
There are also plans to pedestrianise much of the 3.8 ha Humberside site.
Work is expected to begin in early 2000, with completion due in 15 months.
Mechanical and electrical engineer is Peter Sharpe Associates, with Pell Frischmann as structural engineer, APP Partnership acting as architect and EC Harris as quantity surveyor.