Developers of Amazon’s office park in Observatory in Cape Town could stand to lose more than R120m if the project is stopped, with more than 5 000 construction jobs lost, creating a situation that would be ‘catastrophic’ to all involved.

A Business Day report notes the development is being opposed by the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin indigenous council, which wants the Western Cape High Court to urgently halt construction.

Advocate Sean Rosenberg, acting for developers Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust, said an interdict would result in delays and such high costs that it is likely the project will not go ahead, which would be ‘catastrophic’.

Rosenberg warned that Amazon is legally permitted to stop the project if construction, already six months behind, is delayed again.

Court papers estimate that by the end of September, the project had cost R349m.

A termination would, said the court papers, trigger banking fees of more than R12m, penalties of more than R22m and more than R100m owed to Amazon for breach of contract.

However, Rosenberg said, these costs ‘pale in comparison, actually, with the public interest component and the potential public interest loss’ to the people of Cape Town.

Without the development, the canalised river would not be restored, the land not be turned into a public park and none of the infrastructure projects would be completed.

The indigenous council has argued that the planned 10-storey buildings to be built on the private golf course would harm them by damaging the ‘intangible aspects’ of the property, which has cultural and spiritual significance for them.

Rosenberg asked why it took the indigenous group more than 160 days to ask for a review of the environmental authorisation process and why it waited for construction to start before trying to interdict it.

Full Business Day report