Stockland said increased demand from new Craigieburn residents bought forward its plans to develop the retail space.
Buoyed by first home owner grants, and despite the economic downturn, Craigieburn and the surrounding suburbs of Wollert, Mernda and Epping have seen rampant residential development activity in recent years.
However developers in the area have also come under fire for land-banking their sites for development much later down the track, and despite housing affordability being a problem now.
In April it was reported Stockland paid $48.5 million for a 100-hectare residential development site abutting Highlands.
In February, it paid $58 million for two sites totaling 117.4 hectares in Wollert, nearby.
Last October, Evolve Development paid Australand about $35 million for a 60 hectare development site in Wollert, which it is developing into a new estate, Summerhill. Evolve is directed by ex-Fairfax chairman Ron Walker, and Ashley Williams.
AV Jennings, Integrated Development and VicUrban are other developers active in the area, which has become a lot easier to access since 2005, when the Hume Freeway connected the suburbs to the Metropolitan Ring Road – an unfinished “city ring” infrastructure project running from Altona North to Greensborough.