Wharf Holdings has formed a 50-50 joint venture with China Merchants Property Development to buy a residential site in Suzhou for 1.01 billion yuan. The 183,647 square metre site in Suzhou Industrial Park was bought by the two companies through a public auction on July 26, according to an announcement by Wharf yesterday. The company, chaired by Peter Woo Kwong-ching, did not reveal the total investment cost but said the acquisition would broaden its assets and its earnings. With a total gross floor area of 167,057 sqmetres, the accommodation value - the land price in terms of the total planned floor area - is equivalent to 6,046 yuan per square metre, which the company said was in line with market levels. Wharf bought a site of about 350,000 sqmetres between Jinji Lake and Dushu Lake in the east of the city for 1.26 billion yuan, or an accommodation value of 4,100 yuan per square metre last year. More recently, Singapore-listed Yanlord Land Group in June paid 2.16 billion yuan, or an accommodation value of 6,400 yuan per sq metre, for a mixed-use site in Suzhou. Surging land costs in Suzhou reflect interest among foreign and domestic developers in strengthening their presence in the growing city. At the end of last year, Wharf's land bank in the mainland totalled about 4.64 million sqmetres. China Merchants Property Development is 43.45 per cent owned by China Merchants Group. China Merchants Group indirectly owns 27 per cent in Modern Terminals, which is 67.6 per cent owned by Wharf.