The granddaughter of late tycoon Robert Ho Tung who now owns his Ho Tung Gardens villa is offering a compromise - albeit a small one - in her drive to redevelop the historic site on The Peak. Ho Min-kwan has offered to keep intact the Chinese landscaped garden. But she will still knock down the 83-year-old mansion to put up three- or four-storey residential blocks. In a nod to critics, she may scale back that plan to 10 blocks instead of 11. The clock is ticking on negotiations between the owner and Development Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who in January halted demolition by provisionally declaring the property at 75 Peak Road a monument. That bought a year's time for talks on conservation. Ho has owned the site since 2003. She has asserted her right to redevelop the 120,000 sq ft site and is not interested in a land swap, according to people familiar with the situation. She hasn't made any public appearances since the freeze. 'At the most, Ho is willing to preserve the Chinese garden, but the main building has to go. She offered to take out one of the 11 new blocks proposed in the original scheme,' one of the people said. The gardens, called The Falls because of a mountain stream on the grounds, contains a main building, servants' quarters, a pagoda, two pavilions, garage, swimming pool and tennis court. Robert Ho, one of the most prominent business and community leaders of his time, also used the garden to hold banquets. Surveyors estimated in January the redevelopment could be worth HK$3 billion. Ho's latest offer emerged as Heritage Hong Kong Foundation, which is closely linked to another branch of the tycoon's family, holds a public seminar today with consultants presenting architectural and historical studies about the site. The foundation, which has not taken a clear stance on the redevelopment plan, is chaired by Robert Ho Yau-chung, the tycoon's great-grandson and the owner's nephew. Ho Min-kwan recently invited lawmakers to visit the site, and Kam Nai-wai, chairman of an ad hoc Legislative Council committee for Ho Tung Gardens and one of those invited, said it was hard to reach a solution. 'The lady actually wants to continue to live there while having some new flats on the site,' he said. 'She didn't seem to want to sell the land and leave.' He said it was almost impossible to find an equivalent lot to exchange with the owner's, given the site's size and uniqueness, with panoramic views of the sea to the south and a vast piece of greenery. But Kam also said he would not buy the idea of keeping just the garden. He hoped the owner and officials would work out a solution, such as relaxing the plot ratio to allow some development while keeping the main block. Ho Tung Gardens was built in 1927 as a residence for Robert Ho Tung's second wife, Clara. Ho, a Eurasian known in the early 20th century as 'the grand old man of Hong Kong', lived in the building for only a short time. Lam, the development minister, cautioned lawmakers in July that attempts to conserve the complex may fail. She also said buying the site with taxpayers' money would be controversial.