CAPE TOWN, South Africa—U.S. retail behemoth Amazon.com Inc. is once again embroiled in politically charged controversy as it tries to establish another regional headquarters—this time in Cape Town, South Africa.
More than two years after the company abandoned plans for a $2.5 billion New York City headquarters amid political opposition, this fight is over land and a river that some South African indigenous groups say are sacred and should be declared a World Heritage site. The project plan for the nearly $350 million mixed-use development, dubbed The River Club—where Amazon is slated to be the anchor tenant—includes office space, housing, running and cycling tracks and some 20 acres of green-park space open to the public. For over two decades, the space had been a members-only club with a 9-hole golf course in the shadow of the city’s iconic Table Mountain. It’s now a building site.