Howard County officials have agreed to purchase Belmont, the historic 18th-century estate in Elkridge, for just over half the cost paid by owner Howard Community College.

The county reached an agreement Sept. 7 with Howard Community College at a price of nearly $2.7 million for the 81-acre property. But, because the county previously provided about $2.6 million to the school to help it purchase Belmont, Howard will now only pay the difference of $89,000, said Kevin Enright, a county spokesman.

Officials must wait on a 90-day study period to look at title and property matters, such as maintenance costs and environmental studies, Enright said, then another 30 days for settlement.

He said the county has made no final decisions on what the property will be used for, but county officials are considering public purposes, such as an environmental education center and renting the site for private events.

The college, which paid $5.2 million for the property in 2004, had hoped to renovate the estate and rent it out for events while training students in hospitality and culinary skills, but decided the project was too expensive. Belmont has been up for sale since last September. The county had announced in June that it intended to buy Belmont.

The site includes a house built in 1738 on 68 acres and a separate house on 13 acres.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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