Last year saw the strongest performance ever for Manchester office take-up, according to Ken Bishop, director and head of office agency at DTZ.
Take-up was 1.1m sq ft, slightly below the record level of 2001 that included the 500,000 sq ft prelet to Royal Bank of Scotland at Allied London's Spinningfields.
The 2008 take-up level was an 11.6% increase on the five-year average.
Bishop commented: "Given the impact of the credit crunch and the worsening news on the global economy Manchester's performance last year was a fantastic boost to the city. This was just reflection on the attractions Manchester has to offer and a great credit to all those involved in promoting the city. Manchester City Council and Midas have worked particularly hard, in concert with the local development and agency community, to ensure this success.
"The next year or so may be a little rough, but at least the fundamentals exist to enable Manchester to weather the storm with confidence and optimism."
The largest letting in 2008 was 51,707 sq ft to the Bank of New York Mellon at 3 Hardman Street, Spinningfields. The increased volume of transactions enabled virtual parity in the two totals.
DTZ reported a record level of completions of new development and major refurbishments in 2008. The total of 999,430 sq ft included 3 Hardman Street, the largest-ever speculative development and also the largest building in the city, at 352,000 sq ft of office accommodation plus 40,000 sq ft of retail and mezzanine space.
The year also saw several newcomers to Manchester take office space. The Law College acquired 22,000 sq ft at 2 New York Street and the Parliamentary Ombudsman acquired 16,900 sq ft at The Exchange, both buildings being refurbished by Bruntwood. Premier Foods took 30,000 sq ft at 40 Spring Gardens and previous inward movers to the city, Bank of New York Mellon and the General Medical Council, expanded to take 100,000 sq ft between them at 3 Hardman Street.