The city centre acts as the transport interchange for Greater Manchester and over 7 million people live within an hour's drive of it. The 1996 Manchester bombing provided the impetus for the redevelopment of the city centre and an upturn in retail, leisure, offices and urban living. The economy of the city centre is built primarily on retail and services, accounting for nearly 40% of Grade A city centre office space outside London.
Manchester Castle – a medieval fortification, probably taking the form of a ringwork – was located on a bluff where the rivers Irk and Irwell meet. The castle was first mentioned in 1184 and recorded in 1215 as belonging to the barons of Manchester, the Grelley family. It has been described as "of no political or military importance". The Grelleys replaced the castle with a fortified manor house, which in turn was replaced by a college of priests (founded in 1421). In 1547 the college was dissolved and the property acquired by the Earl of Derby and early in the reign of King Charles II it was sold to the governors who had been appointed in the will of Humphrey Chetham. By royal charter in 1665 Chetham's Hospital was established and this became Chetham's School of Music.
Manchester city centre is the commercial and cultural hub for 2.7 million people in the Greater Manchester region and new developments are forthcoming.
NOMA – The Co-op has embarked on one of its most challenging projects to date, as it aims to transform a 20-acre (81,000 m2) section of Manchester into a new retail, office and residential quarter, where its own new headquarters will be housed. The site will be branded "NOMA 53" in reference to "NOrth MAnchester" and the locations co-ordinates. The City Building will become the luxurious Hotel Indigo, which will include a Marco Pierre White restaurant and is set to open in autumn 2012. Two buildings on the corner of Corporation Street and Balloon Street to be converted into 106,000 sq ft (9,800 m2) of grade A office accommodation. Completion by second half of 2013.
As of 2013, there are proposals to develop and extend the city centre northwards in an arc between Victoria and Piccadilly stations.