Trisha Perez Kennealy, owner of the Dana Home property at 2027 Massachusetts Ave., has begun making the rounds to town boards and revealing her plans to turn the former retirement residence into an inn and restaurant.
A classically trained chef who used to work in banking, Perez Kennealy said she has long wanted to go into the hospitality business in Lexington, the town she called home as a child and to which she returned to raise her own family.
Perez Kennealy targeted the Dana Home as a historical structure with architectural features that recall a bygone era of building and has an agreement to purchase the adjacent house and barn at 2013 Mass Ave.
While Perez Kennealy is “excited about redeveloping the property as a small inn,” some neighbors and officials have expressed some concerns, particularly about scale and parking.
Current plans call for 22 rooms between the two main buildings, a 14-tabletop restaurant inside the Dana Home and administrative offices in the barn. Parking would involve enlarging the current parking area and creating another 15-space lot between the two properties.
“The intent here is to keep the scale rural in response to the neighborhood,” Gary Larson, the landscape architect for the proposed project, told the Board of Selectmen last week. “We’ll do our best to buffer from Mass Ave both with topographic efforts as well as planting. In essence, it will remain the same character as is in existence now.”
Perez Kennealy said the idea would be for the restaurant to serve guests and the neighborhood. “While my hope is to be a very successful chef and restaurateur, the projection is that there will be two persons at each tabletop,” she said.
By redeveloping the Dana Home as an inn and restaurant, Perez Kennealy said she would be able to combine her loves of cooking, hospitality and Lexington. It would be a place where tourists could stay while visiting historic sites in the area, or someplace locals could recommend to family members in town for special occasions, she said.
Perez Kennealy said she would love to go before Town Meeting this fall with a proposal to rezone the property to allow the inn and restaurant.
During a meeting with the Board of Selectmen last week, officials and neighbors of the Dana Home questioned rezoning the parcels to allow a restaurant in a residential area and whether siting parking up against Mass Ave would be wise.
“It is about scale,” said John Patrick, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 4. “I totally support a small, local inn. … This is not a small plan.”
Dawn McKenna, chairwoman of the Tourism Committee, said her board unanimously supports an inn as an appropriate use for the Dana Home, but has not considered this proposal specifically.