Since the late 1990s, Fener and Balat, two adjacent historic neighborhoods on the shoreline of the Golden Horn (Haliç) in İstanbul, have been the stage of urban regeneration efforts. Following a process of de-industrialization in the mid-1980s, these efforts have aimed to revitalize the area through the promotion of tourism. Today, almost ten years after the initial attempts, regeneration remains incomplete. This essay explores the reasons underlying this “failure.” For this purpose, I focus on the key actors, their interests and power struggles within the context of the project. I argue that one needs to highlight the particularities of the institutional arrangements at the district, city and national levels in order to explain the situation in Fener and Balat. More specifically, due to the absence of relatively autonomous market mechanisms, the lack of the private sector's involvement, the gap between the public sector's interests and the demands of the market, and the effectiveness of electoral politics at the district level, the case of Fener and Balat has been shaped by district mayors and local communities reluctant to implement and participate in the project.