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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

Traffic in and out of Miami’s South Beach hotels never seems to slow down, even in a tough economy that touches just about every part of the globe. Yet even amid all the international tourists, renovations to the hot spot’s aging hotels must go on.

Several popular properties are receiving cosmetic work lately, with hotel owners investing millions of dollars to restore or upgrade common areas and guest rooms. The 243-room Palms South Beach is among those currently being renovated, with crews attempting to continue working away out of the view of wealthy SoBe vacationers.

“We’re used to working in occupied buildings and hotels,” says Adam Mopsick, founder of Miami-based Amicon Development Group, which is carrying out the Palms’ $10-million renovation. “This particular job has a lot going on at once. It’s like a puzzle—you have to move people from one part of the hotel to another and not be too obvious about it.”

Mopsick says Amicon, which has performed renovations at several other Miami Beach hotels, is roughly halfway through the Palms project, on which work started in January. The hotel’s restaurant, bar, garden area, pool and outdoor terraces are in the process of being finished now, after which work will shift to upgrading guest rooms.

While guest counts have slowed down slightly as a result of the faltering US and European economies, Mopsick says it hasn’t been enough to shut down entire areas of the hotel so that Amicon can work undisturbed or undistracted. Therefore, he advises workers to dress and act accordingly, particularly around the pool area.

“The hotels are still busy. They’re just getting less money lately,” he says. Oceanfront rooms at the Plaza can go for as much as $800 per night during Florida’s high season, according to the hotel’s Web site.

Business at South Beach classic Art Deco hotels never seems to come to a halt since they were essentially rediscovered in the 1990s, roughly a half-century after most of them were built. Therefore, hotel experts say there is really no good time to carry out renovation projects, especially considering that many take a year or two to complete and closing is not an option.

“You do the best you can to minimize the disruption to your guests,” says Guy Trusty, president of Boca Raton-based Lodging and Hospitality Realty. “Anytime you can keep from displacing guests, you’re better off.”

Trusty notes that now is an optimal time to make renovations to hotels in order to position them for sale when the market rebounds in the next few years. It is unclear whether the Palms’ longtime owners, Hans-Joachim and Ursula Krause, are positioning the property for a possible future sale.

Meanwhile, other Miami Beach properties are trading in the midst of renovation projects. For example, the Sovereign Hotel traded for $39 million earlier this month amid a renovation and expansion project that includes a 15-story tower addition. It is in the process of being renamed the Soho Beach House Miami, at the behest of some local residents who don’t want to see the original monikers of local hotels changed.

Meanwhile, the 1,500-room Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort reopened last weekend after undergoing $500 million worth of renovations. Work on the landmark 54-year-old hotel, which figures prominently in various feature films from “Goldfinger” to “Police Academy 5,” continued as Nakheel Hotels paid $375 million for a 50% interest in the property.

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