In 1966, the plans for building the Greenhills Shopping Center began which followed a two-year study of community development projects in various parts around the world. The concept was presented by Filipino architect Juan Nakpil.
Greenhills was named after a green hills in the time Americans, opened in the early 1970s and was among the first shopping centers to be established in the Philippines. The shopping complex housed shopping malls, the Virra Mall and Shoppesville, the Manilabank, PCIB, Padilla, and Crossroads arcades, Greenhills Theater, Greenhills Bowling Alley, and a supermarket by the name of Unimart. All of these facilities were leased out to other companies except the theater. These companies in turn leased out space to small retailers.
In the 1980s, Greenhills was a place to hang out during the weekends, especially for the youth who often frequented the Virra Mall, to shop, watch movies, dine, visit the video arcades and to go to hobby stores at Shoppesville. Music Hall and Annapolis Live is also frequented. Later tiangges or small stalls began to sprout in Greenhills. They started out in annual bazaars during the Christmas season and eventually increased in numbers and their operations became all-year-round.
Most of the lease were expired by 2002, and most of the companies which the facilities were least to did not made any significant improvements or renovations since their lease contracts expired. Greenhills lost tenants and visitors as other shopping centers opened in other parts of Metro Manila. Ortigas & Company, initially planned to sell the complex but decided against it and started to redevelop the complex themselves. A new management team was set up in late 2001 to facilitate the complex's redevelopment.
Among the first redevelopments was the renovation of the Greenhills Theater into the Greenhills Theatre Mall. The Greenhills Theatre Mall was reopened to the public in January 27, 2002. Previously the facility which houses two theaters, has fallen to near-disuse, occasionally opening only for special event of corporations and Christian fellowships.
The Virra Mall was also renovated from January to December 2005. The former Virra Mall, built in 1975 and sculptural design done by architect José María Zaragoza, was demolished in January 2005.
Another redevelopment project composed of two phase costing around ₱25 billion was started in 2010. The first phase was completed in 2013, with the introduction of more parking and retail space, cinemas and The Viridian, a 53-storey residential condominium, with turnover to residents to be made in April 2016.
Greenhills has been a destination for bargain hunters since the 1970s. In 2003, it is reported that around 90,000 people a day visited the shopping complex who stays a few hours to shop and eat. About of 80 percent of these shoppers are from 15–39 years old, over a half belongs to the higher to middle class, particularly from socioeconomic class A, B, and C, and more than half were women.
Around 2,000 entrepreneurs have stalls and shops within the complex's tiangge or flea market in 2003. On the same year, it is reported that an estimate of 90 percent of all South Sea pearls in the country go through Greenhills with a dedicated Pearl Center within the complex. Most of the pearl traders during this period comes from Marawi, Lanao del Sur in Mindanao. Among the other goods sold within the complex are furniture and clothing.
Major retailers in the country, Bayo, Kamiseta, Bench, Ricky Reyes, Folded & Hung, Gift Gate, Odyssey, Alberto, Astro Vision, Plains & Prints and Celine started as small shops in Greenhills.
The complex houses a Catholic chapel and a Muslim prayer room or mussallah in front of the OB Montessori School and Club Filipino which was first opened in early 2005. Previously before the opening of the Muslim place of worship, Muslim traders within the complex prayed at the dimly-lit alleywall of the Virra Mall. The current prayer room can accommodate around 300 worshipers.