The Jefferson Parish Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a zoning change for Ochsner Health System’s planned $62 million rehabilitation hospital at the site of the former Jefferson Plaza shopping center a few blocks west of Ochsner’s main campus.
The zoning for the site, bounded by Jefferson Highway, Maine Street, River Road and Labarre Road, was changed from general commercial to medical service district.
The site will become home to a five-story, $56 million hospital to treat inpatients rehabilitating from trauma, strokes, neurosurgery and orthopedic procedures, as well as a $6 million outpatient clinic for physical and occupational therapy.
The long-closed shopping center housed several businesses, including an A&P grocery and a Frostop restaurant.
Councilman Paul Johnston, whose district includes the site, lauded Ochsner for putting the property back into commerce.
The Jefferson Plaza project is part of Ochsner’s planned $360 million expansion on Jefferson Highway over the next three years.
Also on Wednesday, the council deferred action on an ordinance proposed by Councilman Chris Roberts that would prevent full-time attorneys with the parish from having a private practice.
Also deferred was a Johnston ordinance that would prevent full-time, unclassified parish employees from having any kind of “outside employment or business interests.”
Both men agreed to defer their items pending a review by Parish President Mike Yenni’s administration.
Roberts said he wants to avoid situations where private legal work ends up on parish computer hard drives, which he said happened in 2010 during former Parish President Aaron Broussard’s tenure, which ended in scandal.
Keith Conley, Yenni’s top aide, said the parish is looking at how technology and internal policy can be used to ensure employees don’t use parish time and resources to do private work, rather than precluding all outside work.
Conley called the proposed measures “a legitimate concern” and said they are one of many areas the Yenni administration has tried to address in its first three months.
“This will be another area that we tighten up,” he said.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.