new digs

New Digs: Sharne & Jan swap Francisville for a new condo in Mount Airy

Sharne and Jan Algotsson loved the Francisville condo they bought in 2014. It was a modern, three-story Trinity condominium with a dynamite view of Philly’s skyline from its two-tier roof deck. But they eventually started to long for a home more suited to their empty-nester lifestyle. 

“New buildings had sprouted up on either side of us and our small street became densely packed. We realized we were the oldest residents in the area and our needs had changed,” said Sharne, a semi-retired interior designer who previously had a shop on Antique Row. Her husband Jan is a retired carpenter and contractor.

Their biggest complaint? “We were there for seven years with no parking. Some nights we had to park several blocks from our home,” said Sharne.

This was not the Algotssons first move. Far from it. “I grew up in Southwest Philly and met my Swedish husband when he was an exchange student here in the 1970s,” said Sharne.

“Besides Francisville, we’ve lived in East Oak Lane, Stockholm, Wash. DC, and Northern Liberties. We are city people and we were open to many different neighborhoods from South Philly to East Falls.”

Solo Real Estate agent, Alex Franqui, listed the Algotssons’ Francisville condo and helped them find a new home after it was under contract. “It was the second place Alex showed us,” said Sharne. “We had been prepared to rent a furnished apartment if we couldn’t find a place to buy in time, but as soon as we saw this new condo on a quiet little tree-lined street in Mt. Airy – we were sold,” she said. It all happened pretty quickly. They went to closing and settlement on the same day and moved in on that afternoon.

Their new home features an open plan living/dining room/kitchen on the first floor, three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a roof deck The deal was sealed by the floor-to-ceiling food pantry closet and a carport with hydraulic connections.

Besides being over 200sq. feet larger than their former abode, their new home feels more spacious and lighter due to the bright southern exposure, and open floor plan. “I can cook in the kitchen while looking through the floating plank stairs to the living room and dining area,” said Sharne who has already discovered Weavers Way Coop, a local food coop and coveted neighborhood organic food emporium.

What does she like best? “Because of the layout, each of us has our own bathroom on the second floor. It was Jan’s idea,” she said gleefully. 

Their home is just footsteps from Mt. Airy’s lively shopping, theater and restaurant district on Germantown Avenue and five minutes from the fine dining, upscale shops and farmers’ markets of Chestnut Hill. A historic neighborhood known for its cultural diversity, green spaces and street fairs, Mt. Airy has a small-town vibe with Big City cred. Proof? There’s a yoga studio on every block and former Four Season’s Chef David Jansen chose to open his acclaimed namesake eatery here in an 18th-century cottage.

Before their WiFi was connected, Sharne and Jan gravitated to an internet cafe just a block away. If they don’t feel like cooking, within that same block, they can choose from Italian, Mexican, American, or Vegetarian cuisine or grab a stool at McMenamin’s, a bar where “everybody knows your name” and the Angus burgers are as big as your face.

La piece de resistance? “Jan was a hiker and now he walks in Valley Green,” said Sharne referring to the nearby woodsy northwestern tip of Fairmount Park, a favorite with hikers, bikers, dog walkers, and equestrians, in addition to being a popular brunch spot.

“It’s still the City,” said Sharne, “But we wake up to the sound of birds.”

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