The first stage of Spotlight Group's $100m retail and commercial centre at Bennetts Green is on schedule to open in the second half of next year, the company's executive deputy chairman Zac Fried said on Tuesday.
Mr Fried joined Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser for an official sod-turning ceremony at the Pacific Highway site on Tuesday morning.
While earth-moving works have been underway for about a month already, it was the first time the duo had visited the site since the development was announced last year.
Mr Fried said Bunnings Warehouse would be the first store to open, followed by a relocated Spotlight and Anaconda from Newcastle, and other businesses like Nick Scali, a McDonald's restaurant and a BP petrol station.
The 30,000 square-metre site has been earmarked for development for years and was close to housing a Masters until the chain collapsed.
Cr Fraser said it was pleasing to see progress and she was excited about the benefits the centre would bring to the city and local area.
"This a great site, high profile and it shows a huge investment in our city," she said.
"Also the jobs that come out of that.
"It's a very big retail format here. It's probably the biggest we've seen since Charlestown Square."
Mr Fried said Spotlight Group would likely sell the block of properties its Spotlight and Anaconda stores occupy in Newcastle West for residential redevelopment.
Bunnings is set to relocate to Bennetts Green from Belmont North, with German supermarket Kaufland eyeing off the hardware store's existing premises.
Lake Macquarie council endorsed a planning proposal for a Kaufland supermarket at the Belmont North site in July.
Council staff are working with the NSW Department of Planning to progress the proposal.