WATERVILLE — Arts organization Waterville Creates! and its affiliate Common Street Arts began moving operations from The Center building to the Hathaway Creative Center this week, marking progress toward the transformation of the landmark downtown spot into an arts hub.

Waterville Creates!, which owns the building at 93 Main St., moved its administrative offices to the Hathaway Creative Center this week; while Common Street Arts will move its gallery, classroom and clay studio the first week in September. Both moves will be temporary, as the two organizations plan to move back to Main Street as part of the arts hub that also will include a permanent home for the Maine International Film Festival, a new contemporary gallery of the Colby College Museum of Art, new rehearsal space for the Waterville Opera House and the relocation of the Maine Film Center’s Railroad Square Cinema.

“It’s really exciting,” said Waterville Creates! Executive Director Shannon Haines. “All the changes downtown are really exciting. I think the downtown arts center will really be a place where the community can come together and where (Colby College) can partner with arts organizations.”

The moves by Waterville Creates! and Common Street Arts are the latest in an effort to relocate several tenants from the 93 Main St. building to make way for the downtown arts hub announced in March as a partnership between Waterville Creates! and Colby College.

In the almost six months since the announcement was made, several businesses and groups that had occupied space in The Center already have moved out.

In May, the Maine Made and More shop moved to The Concourse. Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a nonprofit dedicated to the health and well-being of girls and women, has moved out and is currently operating in the Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space in the Hathaway building, Haines said.

WABI television has moved to a space on Silver Street.

Haines said Waterville Creates! has worked with former and current tenants on relocating and the efforts so far have been successful. Of the temporary move by Waterville Creates! and Common Street Arts, she said, “I think we’ve developed a really strong audience. We have great participation in exhibits and educational programs, and I think that audience will follow us to Hathaway.”

As the moving takes place, Common Street Arts programming, including its Art in the Park series, will continue to be held at 93 Main St. through Thursday.

Meanwhile, other tenants also are making plans to finalize moves out of The Center, including the city of Waterville, which will move meetings of the City Council, the Planning Board and other city groups to the new Chace Community Forum in the Bill and Joan Alfond mixed-use residential complex.

The Waterville Community Dental Center, a nonprofit dental center focusing on care for low-income and uninsured patients, recently announced a $1.2 million fundraising campaign to assist with plans to move to a space in Oakland’s FirstPark.

The final design for the arts center — which has yet to be named — is not complete, and Haines said it probably will be a few years until the building opens.

The project’s estimated cost is $18 million to $20 million. Waterville Creates! has pledged to fund $2 million and announced a campaign in July that to date has raised about $200,000, Haines said.

Colby has raised more than $8 million so far, including a $2 million commitment from former board of trustees member Paul Schupf for the gallery of contemporary art, Colby College Vice President of Planning Brian Clark said in an email.

The gallery will allow the Colby College Museum of Art to expand into downtown, he said.

Both Clark and Haines said the project’s timeline depends on securing the remaining $10 million to $12 million that will be needed.

“It all depends on our ability to fundraise,” Haines said. “Once we reach a certain threshold, we will move into the design phase. After that, construction could be up to 18 months. I would say a couple years at least.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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