Jefferson Parish’s Planning Advisory Board has endorsed Ochsner Health System’s plan to build a five-story physical rehabilitation hospital at the mostly vacant site of the former Jefferson Plaza shopping center, a few blocks west of Ochsner’s main Jefferson Highway campus.

The seven-member panel voted unanimously Thursday in favor of a zoning reclassification that would clear the way for Ochsner and Pennsylvania-based Select Medical Corp. to open a $56 million inpatient facility at the corner of Jefferson Highway and Maine Street that would treat patients recovering from traumatic injuries, strokes, neurosurgery and orthopedic procedures.

Planning Advisory Board secretary Ambra Sanne said the parish Planning Department also favors the zoning change, which now awaits final approval from the Parish Council.

Ochsner is leasing the 8-acre Jefferson Plaza tract from the New York-based Feil Organization, which reportedly spent $5.5 million to purchase the parcel last year.

In addition to the hospital, plans call for constructing an outpatient physical and occupational therapy clinic at that location; setting up restaurants and retailers; providing short- and long-term housing for patients and their family members to augment Ochsner’s Brent House Hotel; and erecting a new parking garage.

The project is part of an overall $360 million expansion of Ochsner’s main campus.

Sanne said some concerns were expressed at Thursday’s board meeting about what effect the new hospital might have on traffic turning from River Road onto Maine Street, which is flanked by several homes.

Nonetheless, that wasn’t enough to dissuade the panel from supporting Ochsner’s plans for the site, which used to be home to a Frostop restaurant, an A&P grocery and other defunct businesses.

Officials expect Ochsner’s expansion will enable Louisiana’s largest nonprofit health system to care for more people while creating hundreds of new construction and medical jobs in the process.

Ochsner has said it hopes much of the expansion will be complete by 2019.