The Co-op wants to knock down its old department store in London Road, Brighton, and replace it with 407 student flats.
But officials are advising Brighton and Hove City Council Planning Committee to turn down the scheme.
The new student block would be up to six storeys high with four shops at street level and a service yard entered from Baker Street.
The four shops would be able to stay open until 11pm, if the plans are approved.
The site would include parking for 152 bicycles but none for motorbikes or cars.
The scheme is expected to create at least 70 jobs, according to the Co-op which aims to provide the flats for students at Sussex University.
Councillors will discuss the plans at a meeting on Wednesday 14 December at Hove Town Hall.