Amazonification of Cape Town

Artists’ rendering of the River Club development, where Amazon is set to relocate
San Francisco, baby
  • Googles partnership with Toronto — Sidewalk Labs has failed, amid a lot of controversy about the tech-centred approach (more recently Google have tried to pin it on Covid, but Toronto have said they’re favouring a more human-centred approach).
  • Amazon made cities bid to host their second HQ — over 200 cities participated in “the hunger games for cities”, in what was seen as one of the biggest competitions for the “new economy’. New York famously lost to a “more friendly Virginia” due to NYC locals protesting against it — not wanting the impact of the tech giant on the local housing market and social fabric.
  • Seattle passed a “head tax” which was nicknamed the “Amazon tax” — a tax on large firms for each employee, which would be used to support homeless services in the City. The tax was repealed a month later when large employers’ petitioned their staff to join a “citizen movement” against the tax.
There were some things I did like about Seattle — like this affordable housing going up in a good location!
  • Many South Africans have used Amazon as their career launchpad.
  • Enhancing economic complexity and adjacent possibilities

A new campus for Amazon

Amazon to set up headquarters in new R4bn development at the River Club — good news or bad news?
  • the River Club current site is primarily an golf course and a man-made canal
  • the site is well within the City’s densification zone targeted for densification within the Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework
  • there are few sites of this scale and location where a private developer is willing to invest in the enabling infrastructure to develop this amount of new bulk
  • the developer has engaged with one group of First Nations representatives who have expressed support for the development’s intentions to include various heritage elements such as an indigenous garden, cultural, heritage & media centre, heritage-eco trail, amphitheater, commemoration initiatives including naming of internal roads after indigenous leaders. (Authors comment: This remains a controversial aspect with other First Nations groups opposing the development. Furthermore, these commitments are a “social compact” with no clear manner in which the developer can be held accountable, or long-term operational plan)
  • while the development is primarily an office park, there is a small residential component and the developer has committed to 20% of this being “affordable” (Author’s comment: although there is currently no legislative environment through which to hold the developer to this commitment, or clear definition of “affordable” or how it will be allocated).
  • objections received on the basis of risk of flooding are rejected due to comprehensive studies and plans submitted by reputable engineering firms and specialist consultants, and no counter data or evidence submitted by objectors
The Liesbeeck Action Campaign is determined to fight back and are raising funds here

How have other City’s handled Amazon’s growth?

What’s our plan?

A very car-centric artist rendering of the River Club development. The developers will be investing heavily in new road infrastructure to enable access to and across the site, as well as parking.

Here are some ideas:

Drastically reduce the emphasis on cars, fund public transit

Ramp up skills development

Ensure transparency

With regards to who leads us in these negotiations, I’m less sure.

“Keep me out of danger, not out of sight. Poverty can be solved by working together, tell the Mayor to house homeless people”. Banner seen in San Francisco.




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