R4 Billion River Club development will be home to Amazon in Africa

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash
The City of Cape Town has confirmed that the go-ahead was given for the R4 billion mixed-use development at the River Club. The property will be home to the African headquarters of the retail giant, Amazon Africa.

The development design intends to create a 150 000 sqm2 mixed-use space, divided into commercial and housing uses across two precincts. The developer intends 31 900 sqm2 to be used for residential purposes.

According to Executive Mayor, Dan Plato, the planned mixed-use development will be a significant boost to the Cape Town economy as the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown remains. It is envisaged that 5 239 jobs will be created in the construction phase alone. The project will also create up to 19 000 indirect and induced jobs.

The City says the proposed development will meet the requirements of inclusivity and integration. It combines various land uses and a mix of income groups by offering market-driven and affordable housing opportunities – the latter of which will be physically integrated with the other residential units in the apartment complexes.

Other parts of the development include:

  • 59 600 sqm2 office space
  • 20 700 sqm2 retail space
  • 8200 sqm2 hotel
  • 4100 sqm2 gym
  • restaurants, conferencing, school and events space
  • The developer stated that 20% of the residential floor space will be allocated for affordable housing opportunities.
  • US retail giant, Amazon, will be the anchor tenant, opening a base of operations on the African continent.

‘The planned mixed-use development will be a significant boost to the economy and the people of Cape Town in the aftermath of the national Covid-19 lockdown. The City has carefully and thoroughly considered all of the submissions and concerns during the appeal process. We are acutely aware of the need to balance investment and job creation, along with heritage and planning considerations. It is clear that this development offers many economic, social and environmental benefits for the area. We are committed to driving investment to revitalise the economy, which is slowly recovering following the impact of Covid-19,’ said Executive Mayor Dan Plato.

Environmental Rehabilitation

The developer undertook two specialist studies to outline how the development could proceed in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding ecosystem.

To mitigate the future possibility of flooding, the surface level will be raised above the 100-year flood line. A hydrology report initiated by the developer concluded that the proposed development would have a minimal impact on the prospect of flooding.

The Liesbeek Canal along the eastern part of the property will be rehabilitated into a naturalised ravine corridor. The western boundary will be converted into a vegetated swale (sunken ground covered with plants that will absorb and filter stormwater). An additional benefit is that the riverine corridor will become more accessible to the public, with viewing points, pedestrian and cycling routes.

Heritage Considerations

In April 2018, acting under the Heritage Act, Heritage Western Cape granted provisional heritage protection to the property for a period of two years. This lapsed on 19 April 2020 and no further heritage protections have been issued by national or provincial authorities.

The site is not subject to restrictions such as a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone.

However, the developer has undertaken to introduce various elements to celebrate culture and heritage where currently there are none.

To commemorate the heritage significance of the site, the developer shall incorporate the following features:
  • An indigenous garden;
  • cultural, heritage and media centre for the First Nations;
  • a heritage-eco trail;
  • a garden amphitheatre for use by the First Nations and public;
  • symbols central to the First Nations narrative; and
  • the naming of internal roads inspired by the First Nations narrative

The developer must invite and consider representations from at least the First Nations Collective before these are submitted as part of the relevant detailed landscape plan or building plan for each feature.

The development is envisaged to take place in phases, with construction set to take place over three to five years.

The development of Precinct 1 includes mixed-used and a floor space of approximately 60,000 sqm. Precinct 2 will house the Amazon headquarters, which is 70,000 sqm of floor space.