CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Plans for a mixed-use apartment and retail space in downtown Charlottesville are taking a step back to ensure a historic building nearby does not get damaged during construction.

Heirloom Development wants to build a 55-unit apartment building on West Main Street. In order to do that, developer Jeff Levein needs a special use permit. He went before the city's planning commission on Tuesday night, which sparked a long conversation about the safety of the historic annex building next to First Baptist Church.

The church congregations is worried construction on the Heirloom Phase II Apartments and Retail Space at the site of the former University Tire and Auto could damage the historic church annex.

"It is a delicate building and thankfully one of the conditions is that it should be seismically monitored," Said First Baptist Church member Pat Edwards.

The Charlottesville Planning Commission is holding the developer accountable by requiring he provide a detailed protection plan that includes real-time seismic monitoring as well as pre-construction and post-construction digital documentation of the historic building.

"The church puts the applicant on notice that movement has occurred and you have created damage to our building," said planning commission member Jody Lahendro. "If the applicants proceeds with construction and takes a chance of the building failing, that's a huge lawsuit."

Levien is agreeing to develop that protection plan in hopes of securing a special use permit next month which will allow him to build 55 apartments instead of just 20.

"I'm going to have to stand before someone some day and show you that I have not caused that structural damage," Levien said.

The developer will now work with city staff and the church to put that protection plan together.

The planning commission will take a look at that plan at its next meeting on September 10. Planners can then vote on the special use permit before it heads to City Council for final approval.